ATLANTA — The Braves did all their scoring with the long ball and Derek Lowe combined with four relievers on a six-hitter, leading Atlanta past the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 Friday night in a matchup of NL playoff contenders.
Michael Bourn led off the bottom of the first with his first homer since coming to the Braves in a trade last month. Brian McCann added a two-run shot in the third, and Chipper Jones extended the lead in the sixth with his second homer in two nights.
Lowe (7-11) turned in his best effort in nearly two months, allowing four hits and striking out seven over the first five innings. He started the sixth by plunking Justin Upton with a pitch, then walked Miguel Montero after Upton stole second.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez immediately popped from the dugout on ball four, turning to the bullpen after Lowe's 99th pitch of the night. Rookie Arodys Vizcaino got out of the jam, striking out Ryan Roberts and Lyle Overbay before Chris Young flied out to right-center, just short of the warning track.
Eric O'Flaherty came on in the seventh, facing another mess after Vizcaino walked two straight hitters with one out. This time, the Diamondbacks broke through. Upton drilled a two-out double to the gap in right-center, bringing home both runners to cut Atlanta's lead in half.
But that was it. The Braves turned to their dynamic finishing duo, with Jonny Venters breezing through the eighth on seven pitches and Craig Kimbrel working around a bunt single and a walk for his 38th save in 43 chances. The closer has now gone 29 consecutive appearances without allowing a run, covering more than two months and 29 2-3 innings.
The last team to score against Kimbrel was the New York Mets on June 14.
Daniel Hudson (12-9) went six innings, giving up seven hits and losing for the fourth time in his last six starts. The right-hander threw an even 100 pitches.
Hudson's fourth pitch wound up in the right-field seats. Bourn, who does most of his damage with speed, went deep for his second homer of the season.
With two outs in the third, Hudson walked Jose Constanza and paid a steep price. McCann drove a 1-1 pitch into the seats for his 20th homer of the season.
Jones, whose homer the previous night accounted for the lone run in a 1-0 win over San Francisco, went the opposite way against Hudson with a drive to left-center for his 12th of the season.
The Braves came into the night far behind Philadelphia in the NL East but holding a six-game edge over San Francisco in the wild-card race. Arizona started the night 2½ games ahead of the defending World Series champion Giants in the West, but lost its third in a row. The skid came after a seven-game winning streak pushed them past San Francisco into first place.