James McDonald pitched six dominant inning and Gaby Sanchez hit a tiebreaking two-run home run Saturday night to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
In quite a contrast to his previous start, McDonald (2-2) struck out nine while allowing only one run on two hits. McDonald was tagged for eight runs in 12/3 innings on Monday in a loss to St. Louis.
Sanchez’s first home run of the season broke a 1-1 tie and capped a three-run sixth. Paul Maholm (3-1) carried a two-hit shutout into the inning and had not allowed a run in 251/3 innings this season.
Atlanta (13-4), which has the best record in the major leagues, lost consecutive games for the first this season. It also marked the first time the Braves lost a game in which they had scored.
The Pirates’ Starling Marte opened the decisive sixth by drawing a walk then was bunted to second by Jose Tabata. Andrew McCutchen then drove in Marte to tie it with a double off the right-field wall on a night when fans received a bobblehead doll of the All-Star center fielder.
Sanchez followed by a driving a 1-2 pitch to center field to put the Pirates ahead.
McCutchen and Sanchez each had two hits.
Jason Grilli pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to stay perfect in save opportunities at 6-for-6.
McDonald issued four walks and three came in the second inning when he allowed his only run.
Chris Johnson had two of the Braves’ four hits and hitting .467 (21-for-45) in his last 11 games.
Pittsburgh (9-8) won for the sixth time in eight games and got above .500 for the first time.
Atlanta 2B Uggla left the game in the middle of the fourth inning with a strained left calf. . The Braves placed INF Blake DeWitt on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back and recalled RHP David Carpenter from Class AAA Gwinnett. . Pittsburgh C Russell Martin made the ninth start of his career at third base but first since 2008 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. . Pirates LHP Francisco Liriano (broken right upper arm), pitching for Class AA Altoona on an injury rehabilitation assignment Saturday, gave up four runs and four hits in 22/3 innings in a loss to Harrisburg in the Eastern League.