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Heyward's three hits key Braves victory

Heyward's three hits key Braves victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Heyward regained the appearance of a superstar and Derek Lowe successfully navigated his way through numerous jams before seeing his Braves teammates create a late-inning offensive uprising that allowed them to erase the sting of the game that got away one day earlier.

While constructing their 7-2 win over the Giants at AT&T Park on Saturday night, the Braves saw Heyward highlight a three-hit performance with an impressive opposite-field homer that provided Lowe a sense of comfort on what he had to otherwise describe as a stressful path to victory.

"I don't even know how to describe it," said Lowe, who issued a career-high seven walks (two intentional) and still managed to limit the Giants to one run during a victorious 112-pitch, six-inning effort.

After Yunel Escobar made a sensational play to allowed Lowe to escape a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning, the Braves took their first lead of the evening during a three-run seventh inning that was capped by an RBI single produced by Heyward, who struck out four times during Friday's series opener and then managed to reach base safely in each of his five plate appearances Saturday.

"He's a young kid, 20 years old, and you can't expect miracles every time," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He's going to have his days when he looks like a normal guy, but he's going to have a lot of great days ahead of him."

Showing the patience of a seasoned veteran, Heyward entered this fifth game of his young career intent not to chase the pitches that had led him to go 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts in his previous three games. While taking a strike before swinging during all of his five plate appearances, he once again garnered hittable pitches, like the 0-1 Todd Wellemeyer fastball that he lined the opposite way over the left-field wall to tie the game in the sixth inning.

"I didn't know it was going out," Heyward said. "I didn't know how far it was going to go. I felt like it hurt a little bit on my top hand when I hit the pitch. He got it up and I'm strong enough to hit it there."

Wellemeyer, who was charged with four earned runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, was among those surprised to see that the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Heyward possesses the raw strength that allowed him to direct the high fastball the other way with tremendous force.

"It was supposed to be an outside fastball and it just came back over the middle," Wellemeyer said. "Somehow that ball went out. He hit it hard enough and low enough. I think it beat the wind."

Heyward, who drew a pair of walks and collected two singles in his other plate appearances, accounted for the only run the Braves scored before Wellemeyer proved to be less fortunate than Lowe during a decisive three-run seventh inning that began with Melky Cabrera's pinch-hit single.

After Brian McCann was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out in the seventh, Wellemeyer grazed Troy Glaus' jersey with a 1-0 fastball -- his 98th and final pitch of the evening. That provided the Braves a lead they increased before the end of the inning with Escobar's RBI groundout and a single that Heyward directed the opposite way off left-handed reliever Dan Runzler.

"I just made them throw me a pitch to hit," Heyward said. "I fouled off their pitches and put a good swing on the ones when they came to me."

As for Lowe, he kept himself in the game with his ability to utilize his sinker to induce ground balls and strikeouts in clutch situations. The 36-year-old right-hander, who has won his first two starts, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third inning and surrendered just one run after beginning the bottom of the fifth with consecutive walks.

"That game at any point could have easily gotten out of control," Lowe said. "I was trying the best I could not to let the walks affect me. I was just trying to almost accept them because the positive thing was that when there was contact, there wasn't a lot of loud contact."

With his 99th pitch of the evening, Lowe got Mark DeRosa to ground into a sixth-inning double play. After two more walks loaded the bases, the veteran Braves pitcher ended his stress-filled evening by watching Escobar backhand an Eli Whiteside grounder and then make a strong, off-balance throw to record the out at first base.

"I feel good with [Lowe] in those situations because he can get a double play," Cox said. "Even if he's a little tired, he can get a double play because it sinks even more."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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