When Dan Uggla’s improbable hitting streak ended Sunday, Braves teammates seemed even sadder than he was.
Uggla hit .377 with 15 homers and 32 RBIs during a 33-game hitting streak that was the longest in the majors this season, third-longest ever by a second baseman, and four shy of Tommy Holmes’ franchise-record streak for the 1945 Boston Braves.
“It was awesome to watch,” third baseman Chipper Jones said. “He carried us for the month. He was hitting the ball out of the park. People think of long streaks like that and they think of slap hitters who get a lot of singles, but he was doing a lot of damage.”
Uggla was hitting a league-worst .173 when the streak began July 5. He raised his average to .232 before going 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly Sunday.
“It made everything so fun, just watching him going every day,” left fielder Martin Prado said. “I’m just proud of him. He’s one of those guys that deserves it.”
Uggla nearly extended the streak on a fifth-inning bloop near the right-field line, but Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney sprinted and made a spectacular diving catch.
“I was more [upset] that he had just made that play and I didn’t get on base,” Uggla said. “I wasn’t even looking at him; I was looking at [right fielder Tyler] Colvin, and Barney just comes flying through.
“But like I said, it was fun. I had a blast. I’m looking forward to starting another one tomorrow, and more importantly, getting back on track with a win tomorrow.”
With McCann back, Chipper could hit sixth
It wasn’t vintage Brian McCann on Sunday in the All-Star catcher’s first game off the disabled list, but the Braves were nonetheless excited about having him back.
After missing 16 games with a strained oblique, McCann went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, two pop-ups and a groundout in his first game back Sunday.
McCann returns to a lineup that now features leadoff man Michael Bourn along with another another outfield speedster, Jose Constanza.
“Oh, huge,” Prado said of getting McCann back. “He’s carried us all year. Mac worked so hard to get back. He’s a star, man. He’s a stud. We need him.”
With McCann back and Uggla and Freddie Freeman thriving in the middle of the order, Gonzalez said he would probably bat Jones sixth, a few spots below the iconic Braves third baseman’s customary spot in the order. Jones was out of the lineup for a rest Sunday.
“Lengthens that lineup out a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “But you could always flip-flop a little bit if someone matches up well with a particular pitcher.”
Jones had the National League’s second-highest average with runners in scoring position (.392) before Sunday, behind Cincinnati’s Joey Votto (.424).
Despite despite missing time for arthroscopic knee surgery and a quadriceps injury in his first game back from surgery, Jones has hit .310 in his past 33 games with five homers and 21 RBIs, including 10-for-21 in his past six games.
The 39-year-old third baseman has hit almost exclusively in the three-hole during his career, except two seasons batting cleanup behind Gary Sheffield or J.D. Drew.
Jones has just 22 career at-bats in the 6-7-8 spots in the lineup. Eight of his 14 at-bats in the six-hole came in his third season in 1997.
But if Gonzalez wants to bat him sixth, Jones said won’t be an issue.
“He’s the manager,” he said.
Etc. The Braves also activated reliever Scott Linebrink (back strain) from the DL, opening two roster spots by placing pitcher Tommy Hanson (shoulder tendinitis) on the DL and optioning reliever Anthony Varvaro to Triple-A Gwinnett.
The Braves will keep a third catcher, J.C. Boscan, on the roster until Tuesday, when they’ll recall pitcher Randall Delgado from Gwinnett to make a fill-in start for Hanson. Gonzalez said primary backup catcher David Ross could serve as right-handed pinch-hitter until then.