Braves snap 8-game homerless skid, beat Pirates

Braves 4, Pirates 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves were winning even without homering. When they went deep twice in as many pitches after going without a homer for eight games, they had to know it would be a good night.

Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur homered in the sixth inning to help the Braves end their longest streak without a homer in 24 years, and manager Bobby Cox tied Sparky Anderson for fourth place in career victories with a 4-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

The Braves went 72 innings without a homer until Jones hit a two-run drive over the center-field wall following Chipper Jones' double high off the wall in center, just a few feet below where Andruw Jones hit it out. Francoeur followed with a drive into the left-field seats for his sixth homer, the same number as Andruw Jones.

"I took us eight or nine days to hit a homer, but it counted huge," Cox said.

The homer drought was the Braves' longest since a 13-game streak in 1983 but didn't hurt their record as they won their fourth in a row and fifth in six games.

"I didn't know that, but we've been winning, and that's the important thing," Cox said.

Once again, the Braves put together a big inning with two outs. They lead the majors with 92 runs with two outs.

"It seems every night we start it with two outs, and I don't know why," Francoeur said. "It's hard to explain, but it seems that when we get guys into scoring position with two outs, everybody tends to get locked in. And you want to ride it out."

Cox has a simpler answer: "When you have good hitters, it doesn't matter how many outs there are."

Two innings before the four-run sixth, Chipper Jones tumbled over third baseman Jose Bautista as Bautista fielded a grounder, causing Jones to land hard on both wrists, his left knee and thigh. Jones lay on third base for several minutes, in obvious discomfort, but stayed in the game to Cox's relief.

"I thought I was going to have to take him out when I went out there," Cox said.

The Pirates dropped their ninth in 13 games as Zach Duke (1-4) limited Atlanta to four hits and no runs until giving up about 1,200 feet worth of extra-base hits in a span of four pitches. After that, Brian McCann and Matt Diaz singled to chase Duke, and pinch-hitter Scott Thorman hit an RBI double off reliever Jonah Bayliss to make it 4-1.

"I thought I threw some pitches in decent spots," Duke said. "Chipper hit a changeup down and Andruw Jones hit a sinker. You don't see that very often."

He could have been referring to Cox's 2,194-1,698 record in 26 seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays. Cox got his 2,194th victory in his 3,895th game, counting three ties, while Anderson -- the former Reds and Tigers manager -- needed 4,030 games. The leader is Connie Mack (3,731), who managed for a record 53 seasons.

"I'm proud to be in his [Anderson's] class, I don't belong in it but I'll take it," Cox said.

Kyle Davies (1-1) limited the Pirates to one run and seven hits over seven innings, even though the Pirates stayed with the mixed-up batting order manager Jim Tracy used Thursday in beating the Cubs 6-4.

NL batting champion Freddy Sanchez led off again, Jason Bay hit third and Jack Wilson dropped to eighth, but the mixed-up order produced only a sacrifice fly in the fourth by former Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche. The Pirates sent reliever Mike Gonzalez to Atlanta for LaRoche during the offseason.

"My confidence is starting to get a little bit better and my pitching is a little bit better, and I think the two go hand in hand," said Davies, who hadn't won since beating Washington 6-1 on Sept. 18.

Tyler Yates followed Davies with a scoreless eighth, and Gonzalez pitched the ninth for his second save in as many opportunities, getting LaRoche to ground into a double play. Gonzalez hasn't allowed a run in his past 14 appearances.

"I had to tone it down emotion-wise," Gonzalez said. "It's very different, facing these guys."

Game notes
Atlanta is a season-high 11 games over .500 (23-12). ... Duke allowed as many runs in the sixth (four) as he did over 18 2/3 innings in his previous three starts. ... Edgar Renteria extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a two-out single in the ninth. He sat out the previous two games with flu-like symptoms. ... The Braves homered in 21 of their first 26 games. ... Cox has a 110-80 record vs. Pittsburgh. ... The Pirates have scored one or no runs in four of their past nine games.