Easley's three HRs power D-Backs to doubleheader sweep

ATLANTA (AP) -- Before Saturday, Damion Easley was averaging a home run per month as a utility infielder for Arizona.

Given a spot start in the second game of a doubleheader sweep against Atlanta, Easley changed that ratio, hitting three homers and driving in seven runs -- both career highs -- to lead the Diamondbacks to a 13-9 second-game victory Saturday night.

"He was something, wasn't he?" asked Arizona manager Bob Melvin, who said that each homer felt like the key hit of the game at the time. "Every one of them, it puts us over the top, and [the Braves] keep on battling back."

Easley began the second game with two home runs in 70 at-bats this season. He hit two-run homers in the fifth and seventh innings for the NL West-leading Diamondbacks, who have won three straight and 13 of 18. With Arizona clinging to a 10-9 lead, Easley added a three-run drive off Kenny Ray in the ninth.

"Everything was clicking," Easley said. "The timing was good. I had pitches I could handle and I didn't miss them."

Eric Byrnes' 10th homer finished off Arizona's five-run fourth inning and made it 6-0. The Diamondbacks led 8-0 after five and held on after Atlanta scored seven runs in the seventh to pull within one.

A rainout Friday night forced the split doubleheader. In the first game, Enrique Gonzalez earned his first victory and Chad Tracy and Orlando Hudson homered in Arizona's 4-2 win.

Hudson and Craig Counsell committed errors in the seventh inning of the nightcap as Atlanta nearly made up a 10-2 deficit in one inning. Brandon Medders gave up five hits and six runs, only one earned, in the inning.

After Adam LaRoche drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double off Medders to right-center, Marcus Giles hit a two-run homer off Terry Mulholland to cut the lead to 10-9. Mulholland was recalled from Triple-A Tucson after the first game of the doubleheader.

"They know how to win," said Easley of the Braves. "They know what they're doing. They don't panic. I expected them to make a run."

Arizona closer Jose Valverde recorded the final two outs in the seventh and stranded two runners in the eighth. Jorge Julio pitched a scoreless ninth inning.

"It wasn't enough. But it was good to see the guys fight back," LaRoche said.

"We're battling. We're not giving up. We know it's going to turn around. We're just kind of waiting it out. From the outside watching I know it's probably frustrating and it doesn't look good, but it's gonna turn," he said.

The Braves are 1-5 on their 10-game homestand, including losses in the first three games of the four-game series against the Diamondbacks.

Braves starter John Thomson (2-5) gave up 11 hits and eight runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Easley's first homer increased the lead to 8-0 and knocked Thomson out of the game. The homer to left drove in Conor Jackson, who walked.

Wilson Betemit's fifth homer, a two-run shot into the Braves' bullpen in the sixth inning, ended the shutout bid by Claudio Vargas (6-2). The right-hander gave up two hits through five innings before giving up four hits in the sixth, knocking him out of the game.

Ryan Langerhans loaded the bases with an infield hit against Medders, but Jeff Francoeur's liner to center ended the sixth.

Easley added another two-run homer off Oscar Villarreal in the seventh before the Braves' seven-run outburst in the bottom half.

Game notes
Counsell stayed in the second game after Edgar Renteria's grounder hit the shortstop in the face in the sixth inning. ... Brian Jordan snapped an 0-for-22 slump with a seventh-inning single in the second game.