ATLANTA (AP) – Braves rookie Christian Bethancourt never dreamed his first career home run and first game-ending homer would come on the same swing.
Bethancourt lined Vance Worley’s first pitch in the ninth inning over the right-field wall, lifting Atlanta to a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.
Bethancourt had three hits, including the drive off Worley (2-4). The ball, curving toward the foul pole, cleared the wall beyond the reach of right fielder Gregory Polanco. Bethancourt was swarmed by teammates at home plate.
“That’s a moment I’ll never forget,” he said. “My first homer is a walk-off homer.”
Bethancourt said Braves coaches sent him to the plate with a scouting report on Worley that “the guy was going to go out and throw sliders and cutters away. I was looking for one of two pitches.”
Worley said he threw a cutter, down and away. Bethancourt thought it was a slider. Either way, he was ready to swing.
“I hit it and thought it was going to be a foul ball,” Bethancourt said, adding he maintained hope when Polanco ran toward the wall.
Worley also wasn’t expecting a homer on Bethancourt’s swing.
“His back foot came out, he swung late and I thought for sure it was going to keep curving,” Worley said, adding the shot “never really started curving” the way he expected.
Polanco had three hits, including a two-run single off Jim Johnson in the eighth that tied the score at 4.
Jason Grilli (1-2) pitched a perfect inning and the Braves ended Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak.
Chris Johnson hit his first homer of the season in the second for Atlanta.
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer in the fourth for a 2-all tie.
The Pirates lost for only the third time in 15 games.
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran gave up just three hits through his first seven innings but was pulled after allowing one-out singles to Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer in the eighth. With two outs, Jim Johnson gave up Polanco’s tying single.
Teheran got 12 straight outs following McCutchen’s homer until Cervelli’s single in the eighth. Teheran was charged with five hits and four runs with no walks and five strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings.
The Braves took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Jonny Gomes drew a walk from Jeff Locke, stole second and scored on Bethancourt’s single.
Cameron Maybin’s single drove in Bethancourt in the seventh, increasing the lead to 4-2 and knocking Locke out of the game.
Locke allowed seven hits and four runs in 6 1-3 innings.
McCutchen’s homer, his first since May 24, drove in Polanco, who reached on a bunt single.
Maybin helped produce a run in the third when he singled and stole second without a throw. He moved to third on Andrelton Simmons’ grounder and scored on Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly. Maybin, who had four steals in each of his last two seasons with the Padres, already has nine this year.
Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle said OF Andrew Lambo (plantar fasciitis, left foot) isn’t ready for baseball activities one month after he was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Braves: 2B Jace Peterson is expected to return to the starting lineup Sunday after missing his second straight start with a bruised left thumb. Juan Uribe made his first start at 2B since he was traded to the Braves on May 27 from the Dodgers. … Johnson, who missed most of May with a broken bone in his left hand, exited early but said he was not hurt.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole will try to extend his three-game winning streak. Cole has allowed two earned runs while winning his last three starts. He is 0-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two career starts against the Braves.
Braves: LHP Alex Wood also brings a streak of three straight wins into Sunday’s game. Wood has allowed only one run in each of his last three starts.
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