ATLANTA -- A one-run game finally went in the Braves favor on Thursday. Matt Diaz came through with a bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth to help the Atlanta Braves complete a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres with a 5-4 victory.
The Braves came into the game having dropped their first nine games decided by one run and were relieved to finally take one of their own.
"We pieced it together," said Braves manager Bobby Cox. "Generally the other team has been getting those [one-run games] and we've played catch up to get with in one run of them before and still lost them. We've had the leads before and played a little long ball late in the game."
Thursday's victory not only scored Atlanta a sweep of the visiting Padres, but also gave the Braves a perfect 6-0 homestand to take some much needed momentum out with them on the upcoming seven game road swing.
The scuffling Padres started off on the right foot against Braves starter Jo-Jo Reyes, scoring twice in the first inning. Atlanta answered in the bottom half with an RBI-single by Mark Teixeira that made it a 2-1 San Diego lead.
It was an injury riddled day for Braves pitchers, Reyes lasted just two and two thirds innings and departed when an apparent blister began to work up on his left index finger. The Braves expect Reyes to be able to make his next start.
"In the third inning I was starting to feel a little better, but unfortunately the finger happened," said Reyes. "It's not a blister. It's just kind of rubbed raw and I think if I'd have stayed in any longer it would have formed into a blister."
Reyes was not the only Atlanta hurler to go down. Buddy Carlyle came on in that third inning and pitched two innings of relief, but was forced out the of the game when he collided with Padres third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff while applying a tag on a slow roller down the first base side.
"His neck was really [hurting] and his legs, it was was almost like he couldn't control one of them, so it scared me a little bit," said Cox.
Carlyle was sore but doing much better after the game and will depart with the club for the upcoming series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Shawn Estes, appearing in the Majors for the first time since the 2006 season, looked to be cruising through his second scoreless inning of relief in the sixth. With two outs and nobody on, Padres second baseman Callix Crabbe allowed an easy grounder off the bat of Diaz to go right through his legs for an error.
That miscue gave the Braves new life, as Mark Kotsay followed with a sharp single to left and the Braves pulled a double steal to move the runners into scoring position. After Corky Miller walked, it was Greg Norton again to rescue the Braves.
Facing Cla Meredith with two outs and the bases loaded, Norton drove an opposite field single over the head of Kouzmanoff and into left field to plate two runs and make it a 4-3 game.
"I'm just lucky," joked Norton about his second big hit in as many days. "I just hit and I thought the third baseman was going to catcht and it got over his head so things worked out for us."
San Diego's defense continued to give the Braves opportunities in the seventh, when Yunel Escobar made it all the way to second on a throwing error by Greene.
Reliever Heath Bell then made his own contributin to the disorder that plagued the Padres all day in the field, uncorking a wild pitch that allowed Escobar to scamper home with the tying run in the seventh.
It was Escobar who ignited the Braves one more time in the ninth, laying down a perfect bunt single to open the frame. Chipper Jones followed with a single to left. Teixeira grounded to the right side to move the runners along, prompting Padres manager Bud Black to walk Jeff Francoeur to set up a potential double play.
Diaz hung tough against Joe Thatcher (0-4) by fouling off several pitches before finding one he could drive and ending the game with a sharp single to left.
"In that last inning, when the first runner got on, I thought for sure Chipper was going to hit a homer just so we didn't win a one run game," quipped Diaz. "The one-run games are killing us. If we would've just gone .500 in those one-run game we'd be leading our division."
The ninth inning rally was the first earned run of the afternoon allowed by Padres pitchers, who were victimized by a defense that committed three errors that lead to the first four Braves runs.
Manny Acosta (1-1) worked just one third of an inning to close out the ninth and earn his first win of the season. His credited save of Wednesday's ballgame was over-turned by Major League Baseball and the Elias Sports Bureau after further review indicated that he did not meet the minumum requirements by working just two thirds of an inning.