Braves slugger Freddie Freeman, left, hugs Jason Heyward after Heyward broke out of a big slump Monday night with a two-run homer in the fifth inning helped lift Atlanta past Pittsburgh, 7-2.
ATLANTA -- Kris Medlen hadn’t received much offensive support from his Atlanta Braves teammates this season, but that certainly wasn’t the case Monday night.
Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman hit two-run homers, and the Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-2 to give Medlen his first victory since April 9.
Medlen, 2-6 despite a 3.14 ERA, allowed just an unearned run in seven innings. The right-hander gave up seven hits, walked none, struck out six and hit a batter, throwing 102 pitches.
Medlen, who left his previous start after two innings when he was hit on the calf by a line drive, entered the night with the second-lowest run-support average of any National League starter -- just 2.51 runs per game.
The Braves, though, teed off on the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett.
Burnett allowed just four homers in his previous 12 starts, but McCann took him deep in the fourth inning before Heyward and Freeman did the same in the fifth during a stretch of four straight hits.
McCann also had a single in the seventh inning, giving him 1,000 hits for his career.
Burnett (3-6) had his worst outing of the season and is 5-12 lifetime against the Braves. He gave up eight hits, six runs, walked three and struck out five in five innings as his ERA went from 2.72 to 3.22.
It wasn’t a good night in any way for the Pirates (35-23). Catcher Russell Martin and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected in the fourth inning after a squabble over two called balls.
The victory gave the Braves (35-22) a 19-7 home record and pushed their lead on idle the Washington Redskins to seven games in the National League East.
The Pirates took an early lead with an unearned run in the third inning. Gaby Sanchez doubled to drive in Neil Walker, who moved to second base on a throwing error by center fielder B.J. Upton.
However, Freeman drew Burnett’s third walk of the game to open the fourth inning, and the Braves soon had the lead. McCann picked on a 3-and-2 sinker that didn’t sink and pulled his seventh homer of the season into the right field stands, putting Atlanta in front 2-1.
Things got testy before the inning ended. With Chris Johnson on second and two outs, the Pirates disagreed when umpire Dan Iassongna called the first two pitches to Medlen balls. Martin was tossed, and Hurdle was as well when he intervened.
Then Burnett unraveled in the fifth.
Andrelton Simmons reached on a swinging bunt leading off. Heyward, who snapped an 0-for-19 funk with a first-inning single, deposited a misplaced 1-and-0 changeup from Burnett into the right field seats for his sixth homer.
After Justin Upton followed with a single, the Braves went up 6-1 with their second two-run homer of the inning. This time Freeman went the other way with a first-pitch fastball and sent a drive over the left field fence.
NOTES: Braves C/LF Evan Gattis added May’s National League Rookie of the Month to his honor in April, becoming the first player since Heyward in 2010 to win in consecutive months. … RHP Jason Grilli was named Major League Baseball’s Delivery Man of the Month for May, the second straight time that the Pirates closer had been named the top reliever. … RHP Jeanmar Gomez, who lasted just one inning Sunday in a start for the Pirates against Cincinnati, was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain. … RHP Jared Hughes and RHP Ryan Reid were promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis to bolster the Pirates’ bullpen. … OF Alex Presley was sent back down to Indianapolis despite going 4-for-9 in starts Saturday and Sunday. … CF Andrew McCutchen, who had played in 55 of the Pirates’ first 57 games, was given a scheduled day off. … The Pirates beat the Braves three times during a four-game series at Pittsburgh in April and won the season series between the teams three of the past five seasons.