published Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Beachy dazzles as Braves sweep Jays

ATLANTA — Brandon Beachy was well rested.

It showed.

Returning from the disabled list with a flourish, Beachy had a career-high 11 strikeouts in his first start in nearly six weeks, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 5-1 victory that completed a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Dan Uggla and Brian McCann hit two-run homers for the Braves, who wrapped up a homestand with their fourth straight win.

“I felt good,” the rookie said. “My arm feels strong and rested.”

Beachy (2-1) had been on the disabled list since May 14 with a strained left oblique. After one rehab appearance in the minors, he eclipsed his previous best of nine strikeouts in two other starts.

The Blue Jays were completely baffled over Beachy’s six innings, going down swinging on all but one of his Ks — even chasing breaking balls in the dirt. Toronto managed just four hits off the Atlanta starter, including a third-inning homer by Jose Bautista, and finished with 13 strikeouts overall.

Beachy worked off his fastball and took advantage of an AL team that didn’t know much about him.

“When I’m spotting it early in the count and getting ahead, I can use all my pitches,” he said. “I give them something to think about.”

The Braves have struggled to score runs, especially with Martin Prado on the disabled list and Uggla coming into the game hitting .176. But their pitching dominated the Blue Jays, who managed just two runs and 13 hits in the three games.

“This just shows how good our pitching staff is,” McCann said. “They’ve kept us in every game this year.”

Uggla homered in the second against Jo-Jo Reyes (3-6), brightening what has been a dismal first season with the Braves.

“You want to put up great numbers every year,” Uggla said. “But I’m past that point. I want to win championships. We’ve got what it takes in this clubhouse.”

McCann put up a two-run homer for the second game in a row, going deep in the third.

Beachy won for the first time in seven career starts at Turner Field. Scott Linebrink, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel finished up with a scoreless inning apiece.

Toronto manager John Farrell was contemplating lineup changes after another tough showing at the plate. The Blue Jays have scored more than four runs only once in their last 13 games, leading to a 4-9 slide that has knocked them out of contention in the AL East.

“The numbers don’t lie,” Farrell said. “We need to regroup. There’s no question about it.”

Reyes was going for his fourth win in five starts after setting a major league record with 28 consecutive starts without a win. But he fell behind quickly against his former team, giving up a single to Freddie Freeman leading off the second, then serving up a 1-2 pitch that Uggla drove into the left-field seats for his 10th homer.

McCann made it 4-1 with his 13th homer, following up a walk to Jason Heyward with a shot into the right-field bleachers. Reyes went 51⁄3 innings, giving up five hits, walking two and striking out two.

“You’ve got to keep putting in the work,” Reyes said. “One of these days, it’ll fall into place.”

The Braves also scored their final run on a long ball, though it took a video review for Brooks Conrad to make it all the way home. The pinch-hitter thought it was gone, trotting around second base before realizing that the umpires had ruled the ball in play.

Conrad was thrown out at third, but stayed there while three umps ducked into the dugout to get a look at the replay. It clearly showed the ball hitting the top of the wall and ricocheting off a back wall before returning to the field. Conrad trotted home for a delayed celebration with his teammates.

“I went into my trot,” Conrad said with a smile. “The next thing I know, I’m getting thrown out at third on a home run.”

Jordan Schafer nearly went back to back, but Bautista made a brilliant catch in nearly the same spot where Conrad’s went out, leaping above the yellow line to prevent Atlanta’s fourth homer of the day.

Bautista hit his 22nd homer in the third.

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