Braves find offense, beat Pirates 11-1

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PITTSBURGH - Martin Prado and David Ross hit three-run homers to support Javier Vazquez's six shutout innings and the Atlanta Braves finally found their missing offense, beating Pittsburgh 11-1 on Sunday to end a five-game losing streak.

The Braves hadn't scored in 22 innings and the Pirates hadn't allowed a run in 21 innings, a pair of streaks that ended when Jeff Francoeur's two-run single keyed a three-run first inning against Zach Duke (2-1). Atlanta kept piling on the hits and runs, finishing with seven extra-base hits among its 15 hits.

Atlanta had only 10 hits combined while losing the first two games of the three-game series, 3-0 Friday and 10-0 Saturday, and hadn't scored since the fifth inning of a 6-2 loss to Florida on Thursday. Before breaking out against Duke and three relievers, the Braves had been outscored 34-7 during their losing streak.

Vazquez (1-1) permitted 10 earned runs in 12 innings over two starts against the Pirates the previous two seasons, but he didn't need all the offense he received Sunday. He struck out eight, gave up five hits and walked one, throwing 71 of 98 pitches for strikes in his first win for Atlanta. He has 20 strikeouts in 12 innings over his last two starts, 12 during a 5-1 loss to Florida on Tuesday.

The Braves lost their shutout when James Parr hit Ramon Vazquez with a pitch with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth.

Maybe Duke should ask not to pitch again on his birthday. Duke, coming off a four-hit shutout against Houston on Monday, gave up 12 hits and six runs in six innings to raise his ERA from 0.59 to 2.59. Duke, who turned 26, lost 7-5 to Milwaukee two years ago on his birthday.

Prado connected in the fourth to make it 6-0 and Ross went deep during a four-run seventh against Craig Hansen. Prado and Ross each homered for the first time this season.

All the Braves' runs scored with two outs, including the three they scored in the first after Prado doubled with one out but was trapped off second on Chipper Jones' hard-hit ball to shortstop. Garret Anderson followed with a double, Francoeur singled and Casey Kotchman added an RBI single.

Francoeur drove in three runs. He hit a run-scoring double in the seventh ahead of Ross' homer, which gave the catcher his first three RBIs of the season.


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