Heading home after their final west coast wing of the season, the Braves had just swept the Mariners and were looking to make it three straight sweeps of their American League counterparts.
All signs pointed to a six-game winning streak heading into a tough seven-game stretch against Colorado and Philadelphia before the All-Star Break after the Braves took the first two games over the visiting Orioles (4-0, 5-4) before dropping the finale Sunday afternoon (5-4).
Jair Jurrjens got the home stand started in impressive fashion, throwing 5 perfect innings before allowing a leadoff walk in the 6th. His no-hit bid ended in the top of the 7th, but the young righty did not stray from the task at hand, limiting the Orioles to one-hit over 9 innings, earning his 11th win of the year and lowering his NL-best ERA to 1.89. He struck out 8 along the way.
Providing the run support Jurrjens needed to earn the victory was Jason Heyward.
Heyward, who hadn’t hit a home run since April 29 against St. Louis, coincidentally a Friday night, jumped on Guthrie’s offering for a two-run homer, giving the Braves a 2-0 lead.
The Braves added two more runs in the 8th. Chipper Jones’ single scored Jordan Schafer, and Heyward later scored on a fielder’s choice, giving Jurrjens a 4-0 lead.
With the All-Star Game just over a week away, Jurrjens made another strong case to be considered as starter for the senior circuit during the Midsummer Classic.
Jurrjens joined Hudson as the only Braves to throw one-hitters this season. The pair are the first two since 1976 to accomplish the feat. Andy Messersmith and Phil Niekro were the first pair to do it.
In his first start since his own impressive outing, a two-hit shutout of Toronto June 27, Tim Hudson was unable to duplicate his performance, put did enough to help the Braves get their fifth consecutive win.
Baltimore took an early 2-0 lead on Mark Reynolds 17th HR of the year in the 4th inning, but hte Braves came right back, putting up a 5-spot in the bottom half of the inning, all with two-outs.
Chipper doubled before Freddie Freeman put runners on first and second after getting hit by a pitch. Coming through as he seldomly has, Dan Uggla singled to left, driving in Chipper before a walk to Nate McLouth loaded the bases, bringing up David Ross.
Not wasting much time, Ross jumped all over Oriole starter Jake Arrieta’s 1-1 fastball, finding the seats in left center field and giving the Braves a 5-2 lead with his second career grand slam. Ross’ first career slam was also in a Braves uniform, Aug. 31, 2010.
The Orioles chipped away at the lead, getting solo shots in the 6th (Reynolds again) and in the 7th (Nick Markakis), but the bullpen held on, as Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel pitched the final 2 1/3 innings, striking out 3 and not allowing a run while Kimbrel earned his 24th save.For Hudson, he improved to 7-6, giving up the 3 runs on 8 hits while fanning 6 and walking 3.
The finale Sunday afternoon looking eerily familiar to Saturday’s game, but this one didn’t have the same stamp it did when it was said and done.
The Orioles again jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 3rd, this time off Brandon Beachy, before taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the 5th.
But the Braves were resilient, putting four runs on the board in the bottom of the 6th, this time with none out.
Chipper walked to lead off the inning before Brian McCann singled to right, bringing up Fremean. He promptly singled to left before McLouth’s single loaded the bases.
With one out, Julio Lugo did his job, scoring McCann from third and moving the runners up before Eric Hinkse scored two runners with his single, putting the Braves on top 4-3.
Baltimore charged right back, again off the bat of Reynolds, this time a two-run shot off Scott Proctor as the Orioles took a 5-4 lead.
The Braves threatened in the 8th with runners on first and second, but Brooks Conrad struck out swinging to end the threat before the Oriole bullpen retired the order in the 9th to grab the win.
Notes: Jurrjens snapped Markakis’ 19-game hitting streak Friday night. He went 5-for-5 Sunday afternoon.. Martin Prado has began baseball activities but has not been sent out on a rehab assignment yet.. Rosters for both leagues in the All-Star Game were announced. Selected to start at catcher was McCann, while Chipper was named to his 7th All-Star squad. Making their first appearances are Jurrjens and Jonny Venters, who as advertised, had the weekend off.. It is McCann’s 6th consecutive selection to the NL team.