Carlyle-led Braves sweep Bucs

Atlanta starter Buddy Carlyle throws a pitch against Pittsburgh in the first inning.
Atlanta starter Buddy Carlyle throws a pitch against Pittsburgh in the first inning.

ATLANTA -- Buddy Carlyle was hardly concerned after giving up a first-inning homer to Freddy Sanchez.

"One run's not going to hurt us," Carlyle said. "We're going to score runs, so I don't worry about it."

Carlyle pitched eight impressive innings to win his third straight decision and the surging Atlanta Braves got four hits from Edgar Renteria, completing a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 5-1 victory Sunday.

Atlanta has won four straight, seven of eight and 12 of 16 since going 3-9 against Minnesota, Cleveland, Boston and Detroit last month. The Braves remained 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East.

Pittsburgh lost its third in a row after winning five of six entering the All-Star break.

"Offensively, we did very little," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "When you don't score runs, you don't have much of a chance of winning. The last three games, we haven't swung the bats anything like the last two weeks leading up to the All-Star break."

Making his first career appearance against Pittsburgh, Carlyle (4-2) gave up four hits, struck out four and did not walk a batter. The right-hander improved to 3-0 over his last four starts.

"I'm going to be aggressive with mostly everybody," Carlyle said. "I don't have dominating stuff so I've got to get ahead, strike one. Luckily I was able to get ahead in the count and I was able to do more things 0-2."

Jeff Francoeur, Yunel Escobar and Renteria each had an RBI single for the Braves.

Atlanta made it 1-all in the first when Paul Maholm's wild pitch allowed Escobar to score from third.

"It got away from me," Maholm said. "Overall, I thought I pitched decent, but the outcome wasn't."

Third baseman Jose Castillo's throwing error in the fifth gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. Chris Woodward, who led off with a double, scored from second when Castillo fielded Carlyle's sacrifice and threw too high to first.

Carlyle advanced to second on the error, moved to third on Escobar's groundout and scored on Renteria's single to make it 3-1.

Maholm (5-12) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and eight hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out two. The left-hander, who had a 3.90 ERA in his previous nine starts, dropped to 0-5 in the five starts that have followed his wins this season.

Salomon Torres replaced Maholm to begin the seventh and gave up an RBI single to Francoeur that scored Chipper Jones from second and made it 4-1.

John Grabow pitched the eighth for Pittsburgh, giving up Escobar's RBI single before striking out Andruw Jones to escape a bases-loaded jam.

Francoeur's RBI was his team-best 28th with two outs.

"All I was looking for was something over the plate," Francoeur said. "It's been a while since we've really put a winning streak together."

Carlyle retired 12 straight batters before Castillo's two-out triple in the fifth. He struck out Jack Wilson to end the threat.

"That was a big strikeout," Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. "I was debating whether to pitch to Wilson, who I like a lot, or go to the pitcher. And it worked. But Wilson's a hard strikeout. It's early in the game."

Bob Wickman worked a perfect ninth to close it out.

Maholm did not receive a decision in his only other start against Atlanta, giving up two runs in seven innings of the Pirates' 3-2 loss last Aug. 2.

Notes: Pittsburgh has allowed a run in the first inning in each of its last five games. ... The Braves improved to 29-12 against the Pirates at Turner Field. ... Pittsburgh placed third baseman Jose Bautista (left hand) on the 15-day disabled list and activated Torres from the DL. ... The Pirates also purchased the contract of rookie infielder Don Kelly from Triple-A Indianapolis and designated reliever John Wasdin for assignment.