Hanson struggles in season’s final start
by The Associated Press
October 03, 2012 01:13 AM | 967 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tommy Hanson’s chances for a spot on the Braves’ postseason staff took a big hit in Tuesday’s penultimate game of the regular season.
<Br>Associated Press photo
Tommy Hanson’s chances for a spot on the Braves’ postseason staff took a big hit in Tuesday’s penultimate game of the regular season.
Associated Press photo
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PITTSBURGH — Tommy Hanson completed a mediocre regular season on a disappointing note.

Now, he’s left to wonder if he’ll make the Atlanta Braves’ postseason roster.

Hanson (13-10) allowed five runs on nine hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. He had gone almost two months between wins before a strong outing in his previous start.

“It’s not the way I wanted to finish — but it is what it is,” Hanson said. “It kind of got away from me at times and I’ve got to make adjustments and get better. My fastball command was there at times then I lost it.”

After July 30, Hanson finished the regular season 1-5 with a 4.99 ERA in his final nine starts.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez would not commit to a projected postseason pitching plan, but it’s a foregone conclusion Hanson will not be part of the starting rotation.

“When his fastball command isn’t on is when he gets hit,” Braves catcher David Ross said. “But he’s a valuable pitcher for us. His slider was a little flat (Tuesday) and his fastball command was just OK. He needs to command his fastball better at times and hold runners a little better than he did (Tuesday) but Tommy has been of our better pitchers this year. He’s one of the few guys who has been there all year for us.”

A day after being eliminated from the NL East division title race, the wild-card Braves rested several regulars and shuffled players in and out of the lineup throughout the game. Atlanta will host the NL wild-card game Friday.

“It was good to get (reserves) at-bats to keep them sharp,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to have a lot more position players on the roster for Friday’s game than the other rounds so I feel it’s important that we get them at-bats.”

Gonzalez said he will start his regular lineup for the regular-season finale today and pull them after two at-bats to get more reserves some action.

Kevin Correia allowed six hits and one walk and had five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings and Garrett Jones homered for the Pirates, who won consecutive games for the first time since Sept. 4-5.

A pending free agent, Correia (12-11) perhaps made his final start after two seasons with Pittsburgh, matching a career high in wins each year.

“It’s huge,” Correia said in regards to making his final start a positive one. “It seems like when you go into the offseason on a bad one you can’t stop thinking about that for weeks and weeks until so it’s nice to have a good one to kind of go in on a positive note just to rest your mind a little bit going into the offseason.”

The Pirates (79-82) tied for their most wins in a season since their North American major professional sports-record streak of 20 losing seasons began in 1993. The 1999 Pirates went 79-83.

Pittsburgh previously won two straight games Sept. 4-5. The Pirates faded in the second half, ending their run at a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh rookie Starling Marte had three hits and scored twice, giving him five hits and four runs in the series after making only two starts over the previous eight games in a management attempt for him to clear his head and focus on fundamentals.

“It’s always fun to watch a young man gain some confidence in this game,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re just trying to make sure he keeps it simple because of what he’s capable of. We just want him to try to slow the game down and let those skills play.”

Jones’ homer was his 27th. He also homered in his previous game Sunday.

After Pittsburgh took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second innings off Hanson, Atlanta got its lone run in the fourth when Juan Francisco doubled in Lyle Overbay.

Jones’ homer in the fifth came with Alex Presley on base and made it 5-1.

The Braves have scored a total of 11 runs in their past five games.

NOTES: The announced crowd of 15,272 included several thousand Braves fans, many of whom chanted and called for 3B Chipper Jones to make an appearance. Jones, who has said he will retire at the end of the season, delivered the pregame lineup card. By not playing Tuesday, he will not reach 2,500 career games. ... Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman was ejected by third base umpire Jeff Nelson after striking out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. ... Jones has 45 career home runs at PNC Park, tied with Brian Giles for third-most in the ballpark’s 12-year history. ... The Braves will start RHP Ben Sheets (4-4, 3.54 ERA) in the regular-season finale today after Atlanta manager bumped RHP Tim Hudson from the role after the Braves were eliminated from the division title race. Pirates starter A.J. Burnett (16-9, 3.43) was on the losing end of a no-hitter by Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey in his most recent outing Friday.

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