The Braves don't mind working overtime -- thanks to Jason Heyward.
Heyward scored a 10th inning run on a throwing error to lift the Braves to a 4-3 interleague victory over the Blue Jays Friday night. The Braves are 4-0 in extra-inning games and won for the sixth time in their final at-bat this year. It was also the fifth straight victory for the Braves, who are now 7-1 since an eight-game losing streak.
“That’s why you keep your head up," said Heyward, who earlier in the bizarre game scored on a balk. " It’s a baseball season not a baseball week or a baseball slump, especially at this point in the season. You’ve got to play tough. Everyone goes through injuries. They suck but you have to keep going out there and keep grinding.”
Heyward led off the extra inning by beating out an infield single. He advanced to second on pinch-hitter Jack Wilson's sacrifice bunt. Heyward then stole third base and scored when catcher JP Arencibia's throw sailed into left field setting off the fireworks at home plate and the ones that followed the Friday night game.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Heyward was stealing on his own in the 10th inning, a night after the right fielder hit two home runs in a win over the Marlins.
“You know what? I trust him," Gonzalez said. "He’s gotten to the point where you trust him and let him run there. He picked a good pitch to run on and, obviously JP [Arencibia] didn’t want to throw that ball away there. It was a weird game. We scored the winning run on that and another go-ahead run [in the sixth inning] on a balk, both by Heyward.”
The dramatics came in front of a Turner Field crowd of 42,488 on a night the Braves retired the No. 29 of John Smoltz.
Through five innings Braves starter Bradon Beachy had more hits himself (2) than he allowed the Blue Jays (1). However, the right-hander couldn’t get an out in the sixth inning. The major-league leader in ERA lost a 1-0 lead when started his final inning by allowing Jose Bautista’s towering home run to left field. It came two pitches after the Blue Jays slugger hit a broken-bat liner to left that was just foul. Beachy then allowed a single to Edwin Encarnacion and a walk to Kelly Johnson before being succeeded by Chad Durbin. The Blue Jays grabbed a 2-1 lead, a second earned run charged to Beachy, when Encarnacion scored following a Yunel Escobar sacrifice and a Arencibia fielder’s choice. It was Bautista’s 16th home run of the season.
“I think that was one of those times where you use the phrase effectively wild because I was not controlling any of my pitches," Beachy said. "I was walking a lot of guys. Somehow, it was keeping them off balance. Maybe they were scared I was going to hit them and I about did a few times.”
The Braves answered back in their half of the sixth inning with the winning runs when Heyward doubled home Dan Uggla, who walked to lead off the inning for his third straight base on balls. (Uggla would walk again in the seventh inning for a career high). Heyward scored from third on a balk charged to Blue Jays reliever Chad Beck.
The balk came when Beck stepped off the mound as Andrelton Simmons, who had walked, took off in an attempt to steal second base.
The Braves had a chance to expand their 3-2 lead in seventh inning but failed to score with the bases loaded and one out. The slim lead was gone when the Blue Jays tied the game in the eighth inning. They used a pair of groundouts to plate Encarnacion, who led off the inning with a double off Eric O’Flaherty.
The Braves scored first when Uggla drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the third inning. Beachy scored the run after he reached on an infield single. After a Jose Constanza fly out Michael Bourn doubled to right field to put runners on second and third with one out. Martin Prado grounded out and Brian McCann walked to load the bases. Heyward ended the threat with a fly out to left field.
Beachy, who lost his previous three starts, got a no-decision despite another strong outing. He allowed two earned runs, three hits and five walks while striking out six. He threw 108 pitches in the five-plus innings, 62 for strikes. At the plate, Beachy had the first two-hit game of his career. It included his first double, a two-out shot to right center in the fourth inning. He has nine career hits, five this season.
"We won today," Beachy said. "I can take a lot more positives away from it. I don’t like walking guys. I won’t have much success if I continue to walk guys. I haven’t walked this many guys over a course of three or four starts than any other three or four starts in my career and I don’t expect to repeat it or keep doing it.”
Each team threatened in the ninth inning. The Blue Jays' Rajai Davis reached on an infield single off closer Craig Kimbrel. He stole second and third but was stranded when Kimbrel struck out the next two batters and got a flyout to end the inning. Prado hit a one-out double for the Braves and advanced to third on a wild pitch but was stranded.