ATLANTA --- Evan Gattis certainly enjoyed circling the bases on his first career grand slam and 10th homer of the season, tops among Major League rookies, off Minnesota starter Vance Worley (1-5), which capped a five-run fourth inning and helped lift the Atlanta Braves to an 8-3 win -- their sixth in a row -- over the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Turner Field.
The slam was set up by Gattis' ability to work the count on Worley, who threw only 55 of his 91 pitches for strikes, walked two batters and hit two others -- one of them Gattis an inning earlier.
The win completed a sweep of the Twins, capped a 6-0 homestand and allowed the Braves to raise their record to 15-5 at Turner Field, a Major League-leading .750 winning percentage at home. They'll enjoy an off-day Thursday then head to New York for a weekend series with the Mets.
The Twins dropped their eighth straight game. They'll open a series in Detroit on Thursday.
Given an 8-0 cushion, Atlanta starter Paul Maholm (6-4) settled in and kept the Twins, who rested All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, a career .800 hitter against Maholm (4-for-5), off-balance.
Maholm won his second straight start, putting victorious bookends on the homestand -- he won the opener against the Dodgers on Friday -- and continuing his stellar pitching at Turner Field, where he has a 1.69 ERA (four earned runs in 21 1/3 innings) in 2013, having allowed two or fewer runs in all three home starts.
Gattis credited Maholm's diverse repertoire, and especially his changeup, for his success Wednesday.
Maholm, who came in 0-1, with an 8.25 ERA in his lone start against Minnesota, was tough on the Twins, limiting them to one unearned run on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings, retiring nine in a row at one point. The only run he allowed came in the sixth, and was unearned. He struck out four and walked one, throwing 112 pitches, 74 for strikes.
It was a welcome performance for the Braves, whose bullpen needed a day to catch its collective breath.
The Braves took care of Worley, who allowed eight runs, all earned, on 10 hits, three of those leaving the yard. The eight runs were the most he's given up in his career, while the 3 2/3 innings marked his second-shortest start of the season. Minnesota optioned Worley to Triple-A Rochester after the game.
Atlanta continued its trend of scoring in the first inning, as Heyward had his first of two hits on the day, lining an RBI single to center to score center fielder Jordan Schafer, who'd led off with a walk and moved to second on a Ramiro Pena single. Heyward went toe-to-toe with Worley in the nine-pitch at-bat, fighting back from an 0-2 count then drilling a full-count fastball into center.
In the third inning, the Braves used Worley's inability to locate against him. Pena, starting at short as Andrelton Simmons got the day off, hit his second homer of the year, lining a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right. After Worley hit Heyward and Gattis with pitches, third baseman Chris Johnson singled to center, scoring Heyward to increase the lead to 3-0.
In the fourth, Upton blasted his fourth homer of the year, way out to left-center on a 3-2 pitch, then the Braves loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, setting the stage for Gattis. The hero Tuesday night, when he hit a game-tying homer with two out in the ninth on an 0-1 pitch, Gattis worked the count to 3-0 then powered the next offering over the wall in right.
Cory Rasmus ended up finishing off the game, pitching out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the eighth before allowing two runs on a pair of ninth-inning homers in his Major League debut. He allowed just the two hits, while striking out three and walking one in 1 2/3 innings.
Heyward, one of three Braves with at least two hits (Pena and Johnson also had two hits), had his second straight multihit game and his third of the homestand. The Braves right fielder is hitting .304 (7-for-23) since coming off the disabled list.
With a 6-0 homestand in the books, Atlanta heads to New York for three then to Toronto for two. It's a lot shorter road trip than the 10-day trips to which they've become accustomed.
----- Source: MLB.com