Cody Ross pushes Giants ahead of Braves in seventh inning

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Some more to-and-fro in this one.

Derek Lowe got Freddy Sanchez to ground out to begin the top of the seventh inning, but was pulled in favor of Peter Moylan after loading the bases. Juan Uribe followed with a groundball to Alex Gonzalez, who pulled Omar Infante off the second base bag with the throw (though replays were inconclusive), forcing in the tying run. Gonzalez, one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball, has two errors so far tonight.

Braves manager Bobby Cox then brought in left-hander Johnny Venters, who struck out Aaron Rowand for the second out, but allowed a single to Cody Ross to give the Giants a 3-2 lead. It could have been a lot worse for the Braves, as Brian McCann was able to hang on to the relay throw from Matt Diaz to snuff out Pat Burrell at home plate and end the inning.

Frankly, I was a little surprised to see Cody Ross facing Venters in that situation. Ross has earned a reputation as a lefty-killer in his career. Granted, McCann prevented an even bigger inning with a fantastic block of home plate, but Cox may regret using a left-hander there.

It’s currently 3-2 as the game moves to the top of the eighth inning.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.