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Ciriaco fills in admirably for Simmons

ATLANTA -- Three years after Pedro Ciriaco's best season with the Red Sox, the 29-year-old utility infielder proved against his former team that he can still swing it, going 3-for-4 with two game-tying RBIs to help push the Braves to a 5-2 win on Wednesday night at Turner Field.

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Ciriaco drove in Juan Uribe from second base with an RBI double in the fourth to tie the game at 1, and then singled in the sixth to drive in Nick Markakis, squaring up the game, 2-2.

Video: [email protected]: Ciriaco drives in Uribe with single to right

While starting in place of the injured Andrelton Simmons (sore right hand) Tuesday and Wednesday, Ciriaco went 5-for-8 with a run and three RBIs. His season-high three hits on Wednesday gave him consecutive multi-hit games for the first time since 2012.

"Good for him, because Simba's going to be back sooner or later," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez after the game. "Probably sooner rather than later, and all of the sudden we got him three at-bats and he can help us pinch-hitting off the bench.

"He's a guy that can play a couple different positions in the infield and you can give one of your guys a breather and let him in there and you feel pretty good about it."

Playing behind Simmons at shortstop and Jace Peterson at second base, Ciriaco has had few opportunities to show his worth, but when asked if he was surprised with Ciriaco's performance at the plate, Gonzalez said no.

"Not at all. This guy can swing the bat a little bit," he said. "You look at his numbers in the Major Leagues, and they're not .350 or anything like that, but [they are] solid, respectable numbers.

"He prepares well. It's hard getting him playing time when he sits behind Simmons here, and [with] some of the other places he's played he's sat behind some pretty good shortstops."

While it's unlikely that he is about to stumble into significantly more playing time -- with Simmons set to return Thursday -- Ciriaco has turned into a solid bench option, quietly hitting .279 with defensive versatility across the infield.

"That's another thing [that] makes up a good ballclub you know?" said Braves starter Alex Wood after going six innings and allowing one earned run. "[Having a] guy like Ciriaco who's playing behind the best shortstop in baseball.

"[He] gets in there and has an impact tonight."

Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for
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