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ATL@ARI: Hanson strikes out seven over seven innings

PHOENIX -- Once again, Atlanta's offense deserves some credit.

On Saturday, it hit and scored just enough to edge the D-backs, 3-2, and remind everyone just how good the starting pitching has been this week at Chase Field.

Braves starter Tommy Hanson was charged with two runs on five hits in seven strong innings for the win, marking the third consecutive quality start against the D-backs this series. On Thursday, Mike Minor gave up two runs on five hits in a career-high eight innings for the win in the series opener and Brandon Beachy followed the effort Friday with 7 1/3 scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory.

"We had a good game plan coming in here," Hanson said. "We came up with a good plan on how to attack hitters and we've been doing a good job of that, going out there and executing that."

Hanson is being modest. He retired the last 13 batters he faced. Overall, Atlanta pitchers retired the final 19, including three strikeouts by Jonny Venters in the eighth and three more by Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

"At the end of the year, we are going to be known for our pitching," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That is what has been the constant here in the Atlanta Braves organization. We have a bunch of pennants in that stadium of ours and the common denominator has been good pitching and defense."

Saturday's one-run win was unlike the two first games of the series, when the Braves outscored the D-backs 19-3. Gonzalez will take it, though he admitted "a seven-run lead is a lot better for the stomach."

"There was a lot of good pitching and not very many good swings at the ball," Gonzalez said. "We were back and forth the first couple of innings and were not able to get a shutdown until the third with Tommy. He settled in and then was really good."

With the win, the Braves have now won five in a row and 10 or their last 11 games. Randall Delgado will try to complete the four-game sweep when he takes the hill for the Braves in the series finale. Ian Kennedy will pitch for the D-backs.

Delgado should expect some help.

The  Braves' offense has scored 53 runs in the last seven games and didn't skip a beat Saturday. Michael Bourn and Martin Prado led off the game with consecutive singles off D-backs starter Joe Saunders. One out later, Brian McCann reached on an error by D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill to load the bases.

One out later, Chipper Jones walked on four pitches and Bourn trotted home, his ninth run scored in his last 11 games, to give the Braves an early 1-0 lead.

D-backs center fielder Gerardo Parra hit a one-out double in the bottom of the frame and later scored on a ground ball by catcher Miguel Montero to tie the game at 1.

Prado's RBI single in the second inning gave the Braves a one-run lead, but a homer by D-backs left fielder Jason Kubel evened the score at 2.

"The balls were a little bit dry, but once I got a good sweat going I got a little better grip," Hanson said. "I settled in a little bit better and started making better quality pitches."

Dan Uggla's deep home run, his second of the season, to left field pushed the Braves ahead, 3-2, and it proved to be the difference in the game. Saunders was tagged with three runs, two earned, in seven innings for the loss.

"I was hoping we were going to put more runs up, but it ended up being enough for Tommy," Uggla said. "The pitching has been great and they have been battling. We faced some tough lineups. Houston, the Mets and these guys are grinding out at-bats. It has not been a walk in the park for anybody."

Hanson, Venters and Kimbrel made it look easy. There were actually nine strikeouts to end the game when you count the three by D-backs reliever David Hernandez in the top of the ninth.

"I think Mike set the tone the first game here and Beachy tried to one up him and the same thing here tonight," their catcher, McCann, said. " Tommy wanted to follow suit." Now it's Delgado's turn.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I can't wait to pitch." Comments