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BRAVES ROUNDUP: Huge 8th inning lifts Atlanta past Arizona, 11-5; Gattis' return delayed

Free-swinging Braves slugger Evan Gattis suffered a setback recently in his rehab from an oblique injury and likely won't return when he becomes eligible Wednesday.

Free-swinging Braves slugger Evan Gattis suffered a setback recently in his rehab from an oblique injury and likely won't return when he becomes eligible Wednesday.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves reinforced their reputation as Kings of the Comeback on Saturday.

The Braves rallied for seven runs in the eighth inning and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 11-5, and post their National League-leading 23rd come-from-behind win.

Atlanta sent 11 men to the plate in the eighth inning and wound up another comeback win in a season full of them thus far.

“We put the ball in play and kept the line moving,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And we ended up getting a big number.”

The Braves trailed 5-4 entering the eighth after to a long solo home run from Arizona’s Miguel Montero, his fifth homer of the season, against Jordan Walden (3-1), who had not allowed a home run all year.

But the Diamondbacks’ bullpen could not hold the lead.

“We didn’t deserve to win the game,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “We had a chance to win it in the eighth and the bullpen didn’t put it away.”

The rally began against Arizona reliever David Hernandez (4-5), who hit pinch-hitter Reed Johnson and Andrelton Simmons with pitches with one out. Jason Heyward drove in Johnson with an opposite-field double to left and Simmons scored the go-ahead run when left fielder Jason Kubel made a poor throw while getting the ball back to the infield.

“I was looking to get a good pitch to hit,” Heyward said. “You’ve got to be patient and get a good pitch to hit.”

The Braves then broke the game open with a two-run single by Brian McCann, an RBI double by Dan Uggla, a sacrifice fly by B.J. Upton and an RBI single by Chris Johnson. The seven runs were the most scored by Atlanta in an inning this season.

“We melted down and didn’t play good at all,” said Gibson, whose seven pitchers allowed 11 hits and seven walks and hit three batters.

Neither starting pitcher was around for the decision. Arizona’s Ian Kennedy was chased in the fifth when he loaded the bases with one out. Atlanta’s Tim Hudson left in the sixth with the score tied, ensuring him of a 10th consecutive start without a victory.

Kennedy was making his first start since serving a 10-game suspension for his involvement in the bench-clearing incident in Los Angeles on June 10. He allowed four runs, five hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.

“He was rusty today. I figured he would be,” Gibson said.

Hudson was driven from the game after A.J. Pollock tied it with a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth. Hudson gave up four runs, five hits, three walks and struck out two in 5 2/3 innings and has now gone 10 starts without a win.

“One pitch,” Gonzalez said. “If that doesn’t happen, he’s in line to get the win.”

Freddie Freeman hammered a two-run homer over the 400-foot sign in center field, his eighth home run of the season, to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead.

The Diamondbacks answered with two runs in the fourth to break an 18-inning scoreless streak and tie the score. Paul Goldschmidt reached base on an infield single, stole second and scored on Montero’s double to left. Kubel lined a single to right that scored Montero.

The Braves reclaimed the lead with two runs in the fifth without a hit.

Kennedy walked the bases loaded with one out and was relieved by Will Harris, who walked Uggla to score Heyward. B.J. Upton’s sacrifice fly to center field brought home Freeman to give Atlanta a 4-2 lead.

The Diamondbacks tied the score 4-4 in the sixth when rookie Pollock crushed a 1-and-1 delivery from Hudson for a two-run homer, his sixth home run of the year. That sent Hudson to the clubhouse.

NOTES: Arizona reinstated RHP J.J. Putz from the 15-day disabled list and optioned RHP Zeke Spruill to Triple-A Reno. Putz sustained a right elbow strain on May 7 against the Dodgers. In four rehab games with Reno, Putz allowed one run in four innings, with four strikeouts, three walks and two hits. ... A team captained by John Smoltz beat the one captained by Sid Bream in a pregame Braves alumni softball game. About 10,000 fans arrived early to watch the game. Smoltz threw out the ceremonial first pitch.


Gattis still not ready to return

ATLANTA — After 10 days without watching Evan Gattis take any ferocious swings, many Braves fans are pining for the return of El Oso Blanco from the disabled list.

But as of Friday, the rookie slugger still had lingering soreness in his strained right oblique and hadn’t been cleared to resume strenuous activities. So, though he’s eligible to return from the 15-day DL Wednesday, he won’t be ready that soon.

“He hasn’t swung a bat or thrown a baseball, or any of that kind of stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Gattis said his side has improved significantly since he injured it taking a swing in a June 17 game.

“As soon as it happened it was really sore,” he said. “It balled up. I did get an injection that day; that helped quite a bit. It was sore for a couple of days. Any soreness I get now is really from treatment. I do my core work and all that stuff.”

Gattis hit .252 and led major league rookies by wide margins in home runs (14), RBIs (37) and slugging percentage (.577) in 163 at-bats before he got hurt. He still does — no other rookie had more than eight homers or 27 RBIs before Friday.

The Braves have particularly missed his presence as a pinch-hitter, where Gattis was a sensational 6-for-8 with a double, four homers and 11 RBI.

Defensively, he played some left field and a little first base in addition to catching, as Gonzalez sought ways to keep his bat in the lineup.

Gattis didn’t accompany the Braves for the road trip to Milwaukee and Kansas City that ended Wednesday.

“Just going through my treatment, working to get back on the field,” he said. “I just haven’t been cleared for baseball activity yet. There’s no actual date or time frame, but as soon as possible, obviously. It’s a balancing act between trying to push it and trying to let it heal at the same time.”

There is no timetable for his return, because he hasn’t been given any specific target date resume hitting and throwing.

“I think when it’s not sore at all, is probably it,” Gattis said. “I’m not really sure, honestly. I haven’t swung a bat yet, I haven’t done any baseball activities. Still waiting on that date. And then from there we’ll see.”