Braves use 7-run inning to beat Dodgers

In about the time it takes to say Dodger Stadium at Chavez Ravine, the situation changed entirely.

After three consecutive singles began the inning and trimmed the deficit to 2-1, Omar Infante hit a two-run single that opened the floodgates for a seven-run inning and 9-3 Braves win.

Before the inning was through Brian McCann hit a two-run double and Troy Glaus belted a two-run homer -- his fifth in seven games -- as the Braves slugged toward their 15th win in 18 games.

"Try to explain it, I don't know," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It just happened. We hit the ball pretty damn good that inning, and we had good pitching tonight."

Tommy Hanson (6-3) worked six innings, allowing one single and one walk in his last three after giving up seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman in the first three. He threw 75 strikes in a career-high 118 pitches.

McCann added a two-run single in the eighth inning to finish with four RBIs, doubling his previous season high.  He got his hits Saturday while not wearing his glasses, which the catcher said are causing vision problems again.

He doesn't know which course of action he'll follow with the glasses the rest of the season, but hoped Saturday was a turning point in his offensive struggles.

"It's been a long time coming to help this team out offensively," said McCann, who had only 18 RBIs before Saturday, and none since  May 26. "I've been scuffling and it was nice to get a big hit today, keep the thing rolling."

The Braves assured themselves of at least a split in the four-game series that ends Sunday. They haven't lost in nine series, since dropping two of three games at Philadelphia May 7-9.

They are 2-1 to begin an 11-game, 11-day trip that continues after Sunday with four games at Arizona and three at Minnesota.

Their 25-9 record since April 29 is the best in baseball, one game better than the Dodgers' record in that period. The first-place Braves (33-23) maintained a two-run lead over Philadelphia in the National League East.

They also won for the sixth time when trailing after six innings. In 2009, they had 10 such wins during the entire season.

"Our lineup is deep compared to the past," McCann said.  "One through eight can really hurt you. Everybody's putting up consistently good ABs. When you're doing that, there's no easy outs in our lineup. That stuff goes a long way. People are drawing walks,  getting on base. We're doing everything we're supposed to be doing right now."

McCann had his best game of the season, and Glaus kept doing what he's been doing. The big first baseman has nine homers and 35 RBIs in 33 games in May and June, and a league-leading 44 RBIs for the season.

"We had the big night from Mac, who's been just missing balls for about three or four days," Cox said. "He didn't miss tonight. Troy just keeps homering. He's a tough out. I know he strikes out occasionally, but he is some kind of hard out."

With production from McCann and Chipper Jones down through the first one-third of the season, Glaus has picked up a lot of the slack.

"He's been such a big presence in the middle of our order," McCann said. "What he's done with runners in scoring position this year, and carrying us for a good bit there, was so big for us."

"Oh, he's unbelievable right now," Hanson said of Glaus. "He's crushing baseballs. It's great when you've got some guys, like in that seventh inning, who can go out and put up seven runs like it's nothing."

Hanson is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in his past three starts, after going 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in his previous two. He's had problems in the early innings of recent starts.

"I think I'm a little too pumped up, trying to overthrow," said Hanson, who allowed five two-strike hits in the first three innings. "I'm just out there chucking and not throwing my pitches. Once I get settled in a little bit I can feel the pitches coming out of my hand, and I feel like I'm throwing the ball a lot better.

"Roger [McDowell, pitching coach] said next time maybe run a marathon before I go out there to pitch. The first couple of innings I just didn't feel it. It didn't feel very good coming out of my hand. And then once I settled in a little bit and just tried to keep it basic –  you know, leg straight up, go straight toward home plate – everything started to feel a lot better."

Hanson is from nearby Redlands, Calif., and said he bought about 40 tickets for a group of 70 to 80 friends and family who attended the game.

"I had a ton of family and friends here, so I wanted to do good," he said, smiling. "I'm going to see some [of them] after the game, and so I don't want to go out there and give up 10 runs and then I've got to go hang out with them....

"I grew up an hour from here, so I've been to some Dodgers games. It's awesome being here and pitching in front of my family and friends."

Fueled by seven hits and a walk against three Dodgers pitchers in the seventh inning, the Braves matched their season high for runs in an inning. A sacrifice bunt by Martin Prado also played a big part in the offensive outburst.

The Braves opened the inning with consecutive singles by Yunel Escobar, Nate McLouth and pinch-hitter Brooks Conrad, whose hit up the middle went off Billingsley's glove and drove in the Braves' first run.

Billingsley (6-3) was replaced by Ramon Troncosco, and Prado laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. The move paid off when Infante followed with a single to left that gave the Braves a 3-2 lead.

The versatile Infante has been one of the Braves' best hitters in RBI situations this season, batting .364 in 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position. He filled in Saturday for injured third baseman Chipper Jones.

Jason Heyward followed with a walk before McCann doubled to the left-field warning track to put the Braves ahead 5-2.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre made another move, bringing in right-hander Ronald Belisario to face Glaus. He fouled off three pitches and homered on the eighth pitch, his team-high 11th homer.

Billingsley was charged with three runs and seven hits and left without recording an out in the seventh. If he'd left after six innings, his line against the Braves in three starts over two seasons would've included one earned run and 10 hits in 17 innings, with six walks and 17 strikeouts.

But he came back for the seventh, and the Braves finally broke through against him and a couple of relievers.

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