ATLANTA -- Tom Glavine's long awaited return to the Atlanta Braves was overshadowed by one of the craziest games in recent memory The 12-11 victory went the way of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 12 innings of pulse-pounding baseball on Monday at Turner Field.
"That was probably the craziest game I've ever been a part of," said Braves catcher Brian McCann.
However, further questioning revealed that no matter what may have happened during the final seven innings of the contest, it was the first five that he would remeber the most.
"It was probably the coolest game I've ever been a part of," said McCann, revealing that there is something far bigger he will taking from the game. "I got to catch Glavine, a childhood idol, so it was a dream come true for me."
Glavine's return seemed all but lost after four and a half hours: walks, errors, homers, and assorted run-scoring scenarios. The veteran left-hander received a strong ovation from the Atlanta crowd of 45,269, on hand to witness Glavine's first official start in a Braves uniform since October of 2002.
"It was great," said Glavine of the fans' response. "It's hard to totally hear it down in the bullpen when you're warming up... but it was one of the better [receptions]."
Working in and out trouble, Glavine frustrated the Pirates for five innings and allowed just two runs on seven hits. Glavine departed with a 4-2 lead after throwing 97 pitches and seemed in line for his first victory of the season.
"I was a little anxious first inning, but after that I felt pretty comfortable," said Glavine of his return start. "[But] it seemed like tonight was one of those nights where you had to expect the unexpected."
With game seemingly well in hand, Pittsburgh went to work on Braves relief pitchers. The Pirates scratched a run across against both Chris Resop and Will Ohman before doing most of their damage off Manny Acosta in a four-run eighth inning that included Xavier Nady's first homer of the night. Jeff Bennett allowed a ninth inning run that seemed to all but seal the fate Glavine and the Braves.
Stung by defeat in the final frame on Sunday at Washington, the Braves came roaring back in the bottom of the ninth. The five-run ninth inning was fueled by six walks and culminated thanks to miscommunication in the Pittsburgh outfield, allowing Atlanta to come off the deck and press the Pirates into extra innings.
Pirates closer Matt Capps was unable to shut the door, walking Marin Prado and Yunel Escobar consecutively to force in the first Atlanta run. Chipper Jones then lined a sharp two-run single into rightfield that cut the lead to 9-7.
McCann struck the final blow, a high pop that somehow touched down between on-coming outfielders Jason Bay and Nate McLouth. Running on the play with two away in the inning, both Escobar and Jones crossed the plate to tie the game 9-9 in the most improbable fashion.
For two innings, things would remain scoreless. Brayan Pena nearly provided the Braves with a 10th inning win, lining sharply to second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who doubled off Mark Kotsay to end the inning.
In the 12th inning, Nady struck again and touched up Blaine Boyer for a three run homer that barely cleared the rightfield wall and gave the Pirates a 12-9 lead. The night belonged to Nady, who went 4-for-7 with a pair of homers and four RBI.
Atlanta came storming back in the bottom of the inning, cobbling together a two-run inning against Pirates reliever Franquelis Osoria that included Jeff Francoeur's first homer of the season. Kotsay followed with a double and was chased home by Matt Diaz's run-scoring single.
Osaria (1-0) finally put an end to things, getting pinch-hitter Corky Miller to fly out to McLouth for the final out of a hard fought Pittsburgh victory.
Boyer (0-1) deserved a better fate, but a lack of bullpen help remaining in the extra-inning affair made it necessary for him to go back out in the 12th to work a second inning. His 11th inning was highlighted by multiple 97-mph fastballs and two overpowering strikeouts.
"I think we showed alot of character coming back a couple times; showed what we're capable of doing," added Glavine.
Breaking out agianst the Pirates, Escobar fueled the Braves offense by going 3-for-4 and reaching base five times on the night. McCann connected for his first homer of the season off Pirates starter Ian Snell in the three-run Atlanta fourth.
On Deck: The Braves and Pirates will have Tuesday off before resuming the series on the Wednesday.