May 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) shakes hands with catcher Evan Gattis (24) after he delivered the game winning hit against the Minnesota Twins during the tenth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Twins 5-4 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA -- Evan Gattis sent Tuesday night's game into extra innings with a two-out pinch-homer in the ninth inning. On Wednesday, Atlanta's improbable rookie slugger made sure that no late-game dramatics would be needed.
Gattis blasted his first career grand slam in the fourth inning to give the Braves a big early lead off Vance Worley and they extended their winning streak to six games with an 8-3 interleague victory over the reeling Minnesota Twins.
Paul Maholm allowed just one unearned run in 7 innings, and Ramiro Pena and B.J. Upton also homered. But the story was Gattis, who went through rehab and lived out of his van for several years before returning to baseball after a four-year absence following high school.
Gattis picked on a 3-0 fastball from Worley and hit a towering opposite-field drive into the lower right-field seats near the foul pole. It was his 10th homer of the season and gave him 27 RBIs -- both totals leading all major league rookies.
"He's a legend," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Good for him. The players love him."
The 26-year-old Gattis said, "I was a little surprised not to get the take sign. I was lucky to get just enough of it to get it out. It felt good."
If the Twins didn't know about Gattis before this series, they do now.
"He's a monster," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That was impressive."
The same can't be said for Worley, acquired form Philadelphia in the offseason to be the Twins' ace. After the game, the Twins' opening day starter was sent down to Class AAA Rochester. His record fell to 1-5 and his ERA rose to 7.21.
"We're searching for the guy we got in the trade," Gardenhire said. "We're counting on him."
Worley said, "My ERA is killing me. They haven't seen what I can do. I haven't been consistent whatsoever. I'll figure it out down there."
Given an eight-run cushion, Maholm (6-4) coasted, giving up only the unearned run in the sixth inning. He allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out four, throwing 112 pitches.
The series sweep was the second straight for the National League East-leading Braves (28-18) and extended the losing streak by the Twins (18-25) to eight games.
Tuesday night's rain-delayed, 10-inning game didn't end until 11:51 p.m., leaving the teams barely 12 hours before the 12:10 p.m. start for the series finale. But Braves hitters looked well rested as they rode the momentum of the 5-4 victory set up by Gattis' homer.
The Braves had a first-inning run before Worley could get an out, added two runs in the third and then broke the game open in a five-run fourth, chasing the Twins' right-hander.
Pena hit a hanging curveball just into the right-field seats for his second homer of the season in the third and Upton connected on a 3-2 fastball for his fourth homer to start the knockout fourth.
Gattis, given the 3-0 green light, turned the game into a rout after Worley had loaded the bases by giving up two singles and a walk. It was his third homer in five plate appearances, the first two blasts as a pinch hitter.
Gattis' start behind the plate was his first since May 5 -- the day before Brian McCann returned from the disabled list. But he had started six games since in left field and had thrived as a pinch hitter. On Saturday, Gattis hit a decisive two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Worley, meanwhile, is struggling as much as Gattis is thriving. He allowed 10 hits, walked two and hit two batters in 3 innings.
"He's got the stuff," Gardenhire said. "But he's got to get the ball down."
Cory Rasmus, making his major-league debut, finished for the Braves and allowed ninth-inning homers to Twins rookies Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia. It was the fourth homer of the season for each.
Notes: Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe was placed on the seven-day disabled list with concussion symptoms after having to leave Tuesday night's game against the Braves in the 10th inning after being kneed in the head by Braves 2B Dan Uggla while trying to break up a double play. ... RF Chris Colabello, 29, was 0 for 4 in his major league debut after being promoted by the Twins from Class AAA Rochester, where he was leading the International League with 12 homers and batting .358. ... Twins CF Darin Mastroianni, who had surgery on a bone chip in his left ankle, was transferred from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list. He hasn't played since April 15.