ATLANTA — Ender Inciarte had a career-best 5-for-5 night, but it was his first plate appearance that may have altered the game in the Atlanta Braves’ favor.
Inciarte led off the game with an 11-pitch at-bat that resulted in a single. While he didn’t score that time, he helped run up the pitch count of Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole and set the tone for a series of scrappy Atlanta plate appearances that helped the Braves to a 5-2 win on Monday.
“Inciarte had a really good game,” Cole said. “He was able to spoil a bunch of pitches and had good at-bats throughout the game.”
The center fielder had five singles, one better than his previous career-best hit total. He drove in one run and scored one run as Atlanta won for the sixth time in its last eight games. Inciarte raised his batting average 21 points to .279.
“That’s a week for a lot of people,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said, “On base five times. It doesn’t happen very often, not even in Little League.”
Inciarte became the second player in the major leagues with a five-hit game this season. The last Braves player to go 5-for-5 with no extra-base hits was Marcus Giles on July 28, 2003.
Brandon Phillips, Matt Adams and Tyler Flowers added two hits apiece for Atlanta, which beat Pittsburgh for the first time this year. The Pirates swept a three-game series against the Braves in April.
Mike Foltynewicz (3-4) posted his third straight win. The right-hander pitched five innings and allowed two runs (one earned), eight hits and two walks. He struck out five and beat the Pirates for the first time in four career starts.
Jason Motte, Jose Ramirez, Arodys Vizcaino and Jim Johnson each pitched one inning of hitless relief. Johnson posted his ninth save.
Cole (2-5) lasted only 4 2/3 innings, the first time he has failed to pitch five innings in 10 starts. He allowed a season-high five runs on 10 hits and a walk. It was his first career loss to Atlanta in six starts.
“The grind started in the first inning, and they were just able to extend at-bats,” Hurdle said. “I think it was a 31-pitch first inning with no runs scored. He had to roll up his sleeves the entire time he was out there.”
The Pirates scored an unearned run in the third inning to go ahead 1-0. Jordy Mercer singled and was sacrificed to second. Mercer scored on a throwing error by Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson.
The Braves answered with two runs in the bottom of the third. Swanson led off with a double and scored on a single by Inciarte, who was thrown out at second trying to take an extra base.
Phillips followed with a solo home run. It was his third home run of the season and the 200th of his career. He is the sixth second baseman to reach that milestone.
Atlanta tacked on three runs in the fifth and went ahead 5-1. Inciarte singled and took third on a hit by Phillips. Inciarte scored when Josh Harrison could not field a sharp grounder off the bat of Nick Markakis.
After a double play left Phillips at third, Adams hit his second homer, his first since being acquired by the Braves, on a long blast to right field.
“It’s good to get the first couple (hits) out of the way,” Adams said. “I can just settle in and play ball. I just got some pitches out over the plate and was able to put the barrel to them.”
Pittsburgh third baseman David Freese and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected in the fourth inning by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Freese was arguing from the dugout about being called out on strikes, and Hurdle was tossed after coming on the field to protect his player.
NOTES: Atlanta LF Matt Kemp was 0-for-4, snapping his streak of reaching base in 25 straight games. … Pittsburgh SS Jordy Mercer, who went 2-for-3, has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games against the Braves. However, Mercer left the game in the eighth inning with discomfort after taking a grounder off his right hand. He is listed as day-to-day. … Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said 3B Adonis Garcia removed the boot from his left leg and hit in the cage. Garcia (Achilles tendinitis) is expected to be activated from the 10-day disabled list when eligible on May 26. … Atlanta will start RHP R.A. Dickey on three days’ rest on Tuesday. In eight career starts on three days’ rest, Dickey is 3-4 with a 6.20 ERA. Pittsburgh will start RHP Tyler Glasnow, who is 19 years younger than the 42-year-old Dickey. … 1B James Loney asked for and received his release after the Braves traded for 1B Matt Adams. Loney had signed with Triple-A Gwinnett but saw his chances in Atlanta diminish when the team acquired 1B Matt Adams.