McCann leads home run derby to top Toronto in 10
Designated hitter notches two HRs; Gattis, Schafer also go yard
TORONTO -- It wasn't easy, and at times it wasn't pretty, but the Braves squeaked past the Blue Jays on Tuesday afternoon by doing what they do best.
After some sloppy defense to start the game, Atlanta added to its Major League-leading homer total, slugging four (upping the club's season total to 70) to help snap a two-game skid.
Brian McCann led off the 10th inning with a solo homer, his second of the contest, to break a tie and power the Braves to a 7-6 victory over the Blue Jays in front of 45,224 at Rogers Centre.
"We've been doing it all year," McCann said of his team's homer-hitting ways. "I think people are getting lost with all the strikeouts, and that's what everyone wants to talk about. But we are sitting in first place.
"It's the way we are built. We are going to hit a lot of home runs, and we're going to strike out."
The Braves have, in many respects, been an all-or-nothing team at the plate for much of the season. In addition to pacing the Majors in homers, the club has struck out more than any team in the National League, but as McCann said, Atlanta will take it. Tuesday's win gave the Braves a comfortable five-game lead over the second-place Nationals in the NL East.
McCann, who opened the season on the disabled list and missed about a month of action after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, has been on a tear since rejoining the Braves in early May. Before silencing the large crowd with his game-winning homer, McCann went deep in the sixth inning, upping his season total to six in just 16 games. This was his first multihomer game of the season and the ninth of his career.
McCann's sixth-inning blast off reliever Ramon Ortiz came just after Evan Gattis hit his 12th home run of the season and second in as many days, which was the fifth time the Braves have hit back-to-back homers this year.
"They're pretty good," said starter Paul Maholm, who surrendered five runs on a season-high 10 hits over six innings. "Obviously, they are good behind the dish, but they are both power threats. It's fun to watch. It's good to get to sit ... and watch those guys take some big hacks."
Jordan Schafer also went deep for a solo shot -- his second of the year -- in the second inning off starter Brandon Morrow, who exited with soreness in his right forearm. Morrow allowed four runs -- two earned -- on four hits and raised his ERA to 5.63.
Morrow wasn't the only pitcher to get hit hard early, as the two teams combined to score seven runs in the first inning, and the defense wasn't exactly sharp for either squad, especially in that frame.
The Braves gave Maholm a three-run lead to work with after scoring two of their first-inning runs on a pair of Toronto errors, but the lead was quickly erased, as Maholm gave those runs right back in the bottom of the frame, and then some.
Maholm wasn't fooling any Blue Jays hitters to start the game, surrendering five hits in the first inning, which led to four runs and put his team in a 4-3 hole. It wasn't all his fault, though, as second baseman Dan Uggla and right fielder Jason Heyward let a routine fly ball from catcher J.P. Arencibia drop between them for extra bases, putting two runners in scoring position for Mark DeRosa. It should have been the second out of the inning, and it came back to hurt the Braves, as DeRosa hit a two-run double before a Colby Rasmus RBI single gave Toronto a one-run lead.
But Maholm shook off the shaky first, and he allowed just one more run through the rest of his outing -- a fourth-inning homer to Jose Bautista. Maholm felt his stuff was fine in the first and that Toronto's artificial turf hurt him a little, while Gattis, who was catching, said he was "lights out" from the second inning on.
It was the third straight start Maholm has gone at least six innings.
"Paul did a terrific job for the way that first inning went for us," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We went out and scored three runs, and then we didn't particularly play well behind him."
After Maholm exited and Anthony Varvaro gave up a game-tying double to Arencibia in the seventh, three Braves relievers -- Luis Avilan, Cory Gearrin and closer Craig Kimbrel -- tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings to end the contest. Gearrin picked up the win, while Kimbrel saved his 16th game of the season on his 25th birthday.
Atlanta, which split its two-game set in Toronto, will host the Blue Jays at home for another two games starting Wednesday.