The Principality

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Braves Rally Late in Hanson's Debut

Facing a 3-game sweep by the Milwaukee Brewers, Sunday, the Atlanta Braves rallied in the eigth inning to overturn a 7-5 deficit and win the game 8-7.  The pre-game hype centred around the long-awaited debut of rookie phenom, Tommy Hanson and although Hanson's debut was far from smooth sailing, the team was able get the run support and stop a three-game slide in its tracks.

With one out in the eigth inning, 1st baseman, Martin Prado singled to bring up Brian McCann.  Following a foul ball of home run distance, McCann drove the ball off the centre-field wall for an RBI double of his own.  When Greg Norton couldn't advance the runner, the responsibility fell to midweek acquisition, Nate McLouth to bring McCann home.  McLouth didn't disappoint, drilling a double to centre and tying the game.

With Yunel Escobar up next, the Brewers could feel the game slipping away.  Escabar is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position this season.  With one flick of the bat, Escobar had himself a double and the Braves had the lead.  McLouth went back to the dugout to a sea of hi-fives and pats on the back.  Just what the doctor ordered!

The turnaround meant that Tommy Hanson was spared a debut loss.  The big right-hander went six innings for 7 runs (6 earned) on six hits, striking out five and walking just one.  The problem was the longball though.  Hanson gave up three two-run homers, two of which were to Ryan Braun.  For Hanson though, Chipper Jones was in a hungry mood.  He too had himself two home runs, in a 4-4, 5 RBI day.  Not bad for a player taken out of Saturday's game with dizziness.

The Braves' win was secured with Mike Gonzalez's 8th save of the season, highlighted by a double-play involving Prado and Escobar.  The win was desperately needed as the Braves find themselves beginning to fall away from the Phillies and Mets.  The team entered the day 6 games behind the World Champions.

Next up for Atlanta is Game 1 of a four-game series against McLouth's former teammates, Pittsburgh.  Zach Duke (6-4) goes for the Pirates against Kenshin Kawakami (3-6).  The game starts Monday at 7pm from Turner Field.

Andrew Bracegirdle

7th June 2009