SAN DIEGO – They led the majors with 25 wins in their final at-bat last season, and Jason Heyward said this year’s Braves have the same never-say-die attitude.
Heyward’s leadoff single in the 10th inning on Sunday night at San Francisco ignited a three-run inning in a 9-6 win, one that gave the Braves a series sweep. It was their first win of the season in their final at-bat.
The Braves rallied after blowing a three-run lead in the seventh inning and trailing by a run going into the eighth. Dan Uggla led off the eighth with a tying homer.
“That’s just this team,” said Heyward, whose three-run homer in the seventh provided a 5-2 lead. “It’s a credit to us as a whole, how we never give up on games. Just like last year. Somebody may punch us in the mouth and beat us, but if we still have an opportunity to win we’re going to hang in there.
“Same team, same attitude. With the same great mix of veterans and young guys that come in and understand this is a grind, that you’re going to have ups and downs in a season, but we don’t feel like we’re ever out of a game.”
They came back to win Sunday before an energized crowd of 42,295 at sold-out AT&T Park, against one of the toughest closers in baseball, Brian Wilson.
After consecutive singles by Heyward and Chipper Jones to start begin the 10th inning, Wilson walked Uggla to load the bases. Freddie Freeman struck out and Eric Hinske grounded into a force at home before Nate McLouth hit a tie-breaking, two-run single.
Brian McCann followed with another single to push the lead to 9-6, and the Braves were on their way, sweeping the team that beat them in last year’s division series.
“With that crowd, they come with it every game, so it’s easy to be in every pitch in that atmosphere,” Heyward said. “It’s exciting. You’ve got the energy flowing. We got to see it twice last year there, during the season and the playoffs.”
The first week of the 10-game road trip was eventful for Heyward, who followed up a hitless four-game series against the Dodgers with three consecutive multi-hit games against the Giants, including three hits on Sunday.
The right fielder has bounced back from a recent slump to hit .300 with an .877 on-base-plus slugging percentage and two homers in his past eight games before Monday night’s series opener at San Diego. Heyward ranked third in the National League with a .625 average (5-for-8) in late-and-close situations before Monday, and fifth in overall average after the sixth inning (.409).
Heyward was also 10th in the league in home-run frequency with one every 15.2 at-bats. He and Uggla have two homers apiece in late-and-close situations, and the Braves lead the NL with seven in those situations.