ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves spotted the Pittsburgh Pirates four runs in the first inning before rallying for an 8-4 victory Wednesday to hand starter Rob Whalen a victory in his major league debut.
Whalen was rocked for four runs in the first inning, but settled down and did not allow another in his five innings.
The rookie, who was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and signed his major league contract only hours before the game, allowed four runs on four hits and four walks, with five strikeouts. He did not allow a hit after the second inning.
The Atlanta bullpen held the Pirates at bay. Ian Krol, Mauricio Cabrera, Chris Withrow and Jim Johnson each pitched a perfect inning of relief. The final 15 Pittsburgh batters were retired in order.
The Braves tallied 15 hits, with each position player in the starting lineup getting at least one. Center fielder Ender Inciarte and shortstop Erick Aybar led with three apiece.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke (8-7) was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings. He allowed five runs, nine hits and two walks with only one strikeout.
The Braves got three runs off reliever Juan Nicasio. Adonis Garcia and Matt Kemp drove in runs in the sixth and Aybar tripled home a run in the seventh.
Pittsburgh’s Matt Joyce celebrated his 32nd birthday by hitting a three-run homer that bounced on the top of the fence and just eluded center fielder Enter Inciarte. David Freese scored the other run in the first inning on a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
The Braves began to chip away by getting a run in the second. Nick Markakis doubled, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Anthony Recker’s infield out.
Atlanta made it 4-2 with a run in the third on back-to-back doubles by Adonis Garcia and Freddie Freeman.
The Braves scored another run in the fourth to cut the lead to 4-3. Recker doubled home Inciarte, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a leadoff single.
Atlanta took the lead by scoring twice in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Markakis and an RBI single by Inciarte.
NOTES: Atlanta purchased the contracts of RHP Rob Whalen and RHP Brandon Cunniff from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned RHP Ryan Weber and INF Daniel Castro to Gwinnett. … Pittsburgh is monitoring C Francisco Cervelli for a concussion after he was hit in the head by an off-speed pitch from Atlanta RH Mike Foltynewicz on Tuesday. Cervelli didn’t start Wednesday. The Pirates brought in C Elias Diaz from Triple-A Indianapolis, and they will activate him later this week if Cervelli still can’t play. … Pittsburgh RHP Tyler Glasnow (right shoulder discomfort) threw a side session Tuesday and reported no problems. He will throw again on the side and pitch a simulated game before being activated. … The Braves announced that home games next year will begin at 7:30 p.m., a move made to help address the concerns about traffic flow in the congested area around new Sun Trust Park.