Simmons Clutch Hit Gives Braves 2-0 Win Over Cards

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Andrelton Simmons drove in the only runs of the game.
Andrelton Simmons drove in the only runs of the game.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons' bases-loaded double with two outs in the eighth broke a scoreless tie and lifted the Braves to a series-clinching 2-0 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.

Starters Julio Teheran and Joe Kelly traded clean frames for six innings in a spirited pitchers' duel, leaving the bullpens to settle the contest. Freddie Freeman started the eighth with a five-pitch leadoff walk, courtesy of St. Louis left-hander Randy Choate, and moved to second on Brian McCann's single into shallow center field. That brought flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal out of the Cardinals bullpen, who struck out Dan Uggla and walked Chris Johnson to load the bases.

Simmons stepped in with two outs and took Rosenthal's 99-mph fastball to left-center with an inside-out swing to score Freeman and McCann, the shortstop's 36th and 37th RBIs this season.

After allowing two runners to reach with two outs in the first inning, Teheran retired 19 of the final 20 batters he faced, with Jon Jay's fifth-inning double into left the only interruption in an impressive stretch of shutdown pitching. Time after time, Teheran dropped in looping curveballs in the low 70s to keep the Cardinals off balance for his low-to-mid-90s fastballs.

But Teheran was lifted after 88 pitches for a pinch-hitter when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez sensed an opportunity to scrape out a run in the seventh inning. Simmons got things started in the seventh with a one-out single into left field, bringing Joey Terdoslavich on to hit for Teheran.

The rookie switch-hitter rewarded Gonzalez for his trust by dropping a double into left-center, right in between Matt Holliday and Jay, moving Simmons to third. But just after Jason Heyward was intentionally walked to load the bases and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny pulled Kelly via a double switch, Justin Upton grounded to new shortstop Pete Kozma to start an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Kelly kept the potent Atlanta lineup in the yard while turning in his longest start of the season, navigating 6 1/3 innings on 86 pitches. Johnson provided the Braves offense its only spark in the early going, putting runners into scoring position on two separate occasions with singles into center field in the second and fourth innings.

The first man out of each bullpen turned in brief, yet flawless outings. Cardinals righty Seth Maness needed just one pitch to induce Upton's double play, and Braves left-hander Luis Avilan responded with a perfect frame in the eighth inning, striking out Kozma on a 3-2 fastball for the last out. But Choate and Rosenthal paid for their mistakes in the eighth, and Braves closer Craig Kimbrel ended the game in the ninth for his 30th save this season.

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