Bourn, Uggla homers help Braves end 8-game skid

Like his predecessor Bobby Cox, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn’t inclined to give pregame speeches to fire up the squad. But with an eight-game losing streak being as close to desperate times as anyone in the organization cared to be, Gonzalez gave a speech Tuesday.

Judging from the results, he might not wait so long the next time the Braves are in a skid.

Home runs by Michael Bourn and Dan Uggla staked Randall Delgado to an early four-run lead, and the Braves hung on for a 5-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals to snap an eight-game slide that was the Braves’ longest since April 2010.

“Everybody knows how bad we’ve been scuffling, ain’t no secret,” said Uggla, who hit a three-run homer with two out in the third inning for a 4-0 lead. “Just to get this first one, kind of ease the tension, ease the pressure a little bit, remember what this feels like, I think was obviously a big night.”

Delgado (3-5) allowed six hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings for his first win since April 17.

The Braves scored more runs than they had in any of their previous 10 games, and Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his 14th save in his first save opportunity since May 20.

“We played good baseball today,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t break. We bent a little bit but we didn’t break. I thought Delgado was very good, other than the growing pains of [not getting] shutdown innings” after the Braves scored.

Delgado was 0-5 with a 4.78 ERA in his previous seven starts, and not since April 22 had the Braves scored more than two runs while he was in a game. The only times they scored more than three while he was in games this season were in his first two starts — his only wins before Tuesday.

“We haven’t scored a lot of runs in the last week, so it’s kind of hard for our pitchers,” said Bourn, who hit his fourth career leadoff homer and second in eight days. “They have to try to be too fine. It’s hard to pitch when it’s too fine [a line] all the time. We were able to get on top of them early and get the losing streak out of the way.”

Gonzalez called his injury-plagued team together for a meeting in the afternoon, before the Braves’ clubhouse was opened to reporters. His message to the players was simple.

“We’re a good club,” he said of what he told them. “I told them sometimes you’ve got to remind them that they’re a good club. If you line up some of the starters that we’ve beaten, it’s a sign of a good club. If you as a pitching staff line up some of the clubs that we’ve beaten, it’s a good club. And I reminded them sometimes they forget, as players.

“I don’t want to hear excuses about this guy is sick, this guy can’t see, this guy has got a bad ankle. It happens. It’s just to remind them and let them know we’re a good team and we expect to win baseball games as long as we wear an Atlanta Braves uniform.”

Whether or not they needed reminding, the Braves played a far better brand of baseball than in the first four games of the homestand. They drew more than 160,000 fans to those four, and led for a total of three innings out of 36.

They led the entire way Tuesday, after the Bourn homer in the first inning and Uggla’s three-run shot in the third. Bourn walked with one out in the third and went to second on Martin Prado’s hit-and-run infield single.

“Any time you hit a three-run homer it feels good, because it’s either going to kind of separate you from your opponent or it’s going to put you right back in there,” said Uggla, who has eight homers this season, five with bases empty. “I was just happy to get a pitch  I could handle and put a good swing on it. Gave Randall a little bit of a cushion.”

Bourn gave the crowd of 26,218 something to cheer right away when he hit the fourth leadoff homer of his career and second in eight days.

With less than one-third of the season completed, Bourn already has matched his single-season career high with five home runs, including three in last week’s series at Cincinnati.

The homer off St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook (4-4) was Bourn’s fourth in a span of 30 at-bats in eight days, after he totaled 14 homers in 2,576 at-bats in his first 759 games of his major league career.

The Braves hit .178 with 20 runs in their 0-8 skid, and seven or eight runs allowed in each of the first four games on the homestand — the first time Atlanta pitchers allowed as many as seven runs in four consecutive games since July 2008, when they did it in five in a row during a 90-loss season.

“We know we have a good team,” Bourn said. “We know we don’t have everybody at full strength, but we’re still good enough to win games.”

Delgado allowed two grand slams this season, each time issuing a leadoff walk to start the slam inning. He also gave up a leadoff walk in the sixth inning Thursday at Cincinnati, left with the bases loaded, and watched Kris Medlen give up a grand slam to the next batter.

So when Delgado issued a leadoff walk in the fourth inning Tuesday immediately after being staked to a 4-0 lead, then gave up pair of singles to the next two batters, there was some consternation.

Yadier Molina (4-for-4, three RBIs) had the second of the singles in the inning to drive in a run. But Delgado coaxed a couple of groundouts to limit the damage to one more run, which cut the lead to 4-2.

The Braves added what proved to be an important run in the fifth inning. Speedy outfielder Jose Constanza, just up from Triple-A, led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt, went to third on Bourn’s flyout and scored on a wild pitch.

Gonzalez hit Constanza ninth in the order and batted his pitcher eighth, the first time he’s used that unorthodox approach this season.

“He lead off [in two innings],” Gonzalez said. “We’ll chalk it up that it worked today, hitting the pitcher eighth. It’s nice for [Constanza] to bring a little energy. He did that last year for us and he’s a good defender, he can run and puts the ball in play.”

Delgado was replaced in the sixth after giving a one-out homer to Molina and walking Matt Adams, and Chad Durbin got out of the inning by striking out two of the next three batters.

Reliever Jonny Venters, bumped from the eighth inning to the seventh, continued to struggle in May, allowing a run on three consecutive two-out singles to cut the lead to 5-4. Eric O’Flaherty swapped places with him and pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts.

“We’ll keep working on that,” Gonzalez said of the Venters-O’Flaherty pitching order. “Today I thought Jonny made some strides. Now we’ve got to get those ground balls hit at somebody. He’s getting ground balls, and that’s a good thing. And yesterday he got ground balls. So I told Jonny when he came out, I said ‘Hey, we’re getting ground balls which we weren’t getting before. Now we’ve got to find a way to put an infielder in front of them.’”

For the first time in the six-game homestand that ends Wednesday, the Braves left feeling good about their day’s work.

“It’s definitely going to relieve the pressure tonight,” Uggla said. “We’re not leaving with our heads down, walking back into the clubhouse after the game. It’s not any indication of what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week or next month, but it definitely kind of snaps that feeling of, ‘Oh, man, are we ever going to win again?’”

75 comments Add your comment

TheOnlyBravesFan

May 29th, 2012
10:05 pm

1st…. Glad that horrible streak is over.. Let’s start a winning streak now.

Go BRAVES!!!!!!!!!!

IowaBravesFan

May 29th, 2012
10:06 pm

Finally…..

Bravefaninok

May 29th, 2012
10:08 pm

David today is tuesday…..

Bravefaninok

May 29th, 2012
10:10 pm

Hopefully the good guys can reel off a nice winning streak …

merbertmoover

May 29th, 2012
10:11 pm

i hope the braves don’t get caught eating the pie before it cools, if you know what im sayin

John Pappadoppagapoulas

May 29th, 2012
10:16 pm

Can I open my eyes now?

Spiro T

May 29th, 2012
10:17 pm

And another Georgia athlete arrested. Man, is anybody keeping count?

farmer

May 29th, 2012
10:19 pm

still not overly impressed.. glad hte losing streak is over.. but one hting still remains about his team and why they will not do anything again this year. FREDI is still the manager. as long as he is, they will suck, period.. fire him now!

Quack Quack

May 29th, 2012
10:21 pm

Finally!! Lets turn this team around and start playing like the winners we are.

Great game. DOB, Did we slip into a different time zone? ;-)

GO BRAVES!!!

Who Me?

May 29th, 2012
10:23 pm

Good to get an NCW tonight: a Non-Chipper Win. Wasn’t sure we were ever going to see one of those again, and almost let it get away in the 8th….

Fire the Manager!

May 29th, 2012
10:24 pm

Venters gave up a hit. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

Uggla struck out. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

Chipper is hurt. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

Delgado gave up a homer. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

My hot dog was cold. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

Parking is too expensive. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

Facebook stock is dipping. FIRE THE MANAGER!!

Idiots.

Who Me?

May 29th, 2012
10:25 pm

nats lose, phillies lose. Good night to be a Braves fan….

iTiSi

May 29th, 2012
10:31 pm

DOB says, “Gonzalez gave a speech Wednesday(think he meant Tues.)” I would just like to know if he used a teleprompter like his idol? Or maybe since he is a robot, it just took a programmed card stuck in the slot in the back of his neck. Anyway, I wonder how many fell asleep during Mr. Personality’s talk?

Hugh A Roni

May 29th, 2012
10:33 pm

Ban Fire The Manager!

Nabob

May 29th, 2012
10:34 pm

Good news? Hudson tomorrow

Bad news? On day closer to another major Minor disaster

davidputty

May 29th, 2012
10:38 pm

I’m not one of the fire-the-manager crowd; such talk is absurd. Speaking of the absurd, unless your pticher was Babe Ruth, Bob Gibson when Dal Maxvill was the shortstop, Micah Owings, Tony Cloninger, Don Robinson, or Rick Rhoden, he should be batting ninth–because he is the worst hitter in your lineup.

Another Clueless Blogger

May 29th, 2012
10:38 pm

I like “Fire The Manager!” His post makes more sense than 90% of the posts on any given Braves blog.

Who Me?

May 29th, 2012
10:41 pm

Say what you want but Gonzalez needed to make that speech today. the only question i have is why didn’t he do it 4 games ago and not wait this long. These guys HAVE to get it through their thick heads they can win without Chipper (and to some degree Freeman) in the lineup. Still not seeing what I want to see out of Heyward though….even though he was 1 for 3 tonight.

Kev 98

May 29th, 2012
10:44 pm

You talked a lot about Medlen going down to AAA but what about bringing Constanza up? He definitely brings a well-needed spark to the team.

Man in Black

May 29th, 2012
10:45 pm

The Braves have been playing like an unmotivated team for years – now I know why – no pre-game talk? This is the majors man – your the manager – its your job to get players fired up every game – in my view Bobby Cox was a horrible manager – with all the talent he had – to win just 1 ring is horrible – he left starting pitchers out there too long and his teams often played soft – it takes losing 8 games to have a pre-game talk with your team? He’d make a lousy NFL coach – lose 8 in row in that league and your fired.

Keith

May 29th, 2012
11:04 pm

Re: Man in Black

Cox was an amazing manager of players. He motivated them to play beyond their normal capabilities. The 2010 team was an amazing reminder of that.

Remember those teams that beat them? The Yanks of the 90s is considered one of the top 2 yankee teams of all-time.

No, I think you will see that Cox will continue to be viewed as one of the greatest managers of all-time…most importantly, by the people playing and running the game…not by us armchair GMs.

Go BRAVES! :)

Speeches Smeeches

May 29th, 2012
11:04 pm

Professional athletes, especially in baseball, do not win games because of managers’ speeches. A professional, grown-man, athlete doesn’t need a manager to motivate him. If it does, he shouldn’t be playing in the bigs.

Keith

May 29th, 2012
11:05 pm

Re: Speeches

Everyone needs motivating from time to time. Even adult men.

See the History of Civilizations and Revolutions. :)

jim

May 29th, 2012
11:22 pm

Given you have Pastor, Constanza, and pitcher at bottom of lineup, batting Constanza 9th makes a lot of sense. There might be some singles and speed, but no power to drive in runs. Delgado has been a good bunter and has had some decent ABs. We have had the pitcher leading off a lot of innings during the streak, and tonight having Constanza lead of the inning resulted in the deciding run.

go-BRAVOS

May 29th, 2012
11:22 pm

The Optimists call the Pessimists idiots for calling the team and manager out. The Pessimists call the Optimists idiots for having hope and suggesting this team will recover. I say their both idiots in their own way but at least the passion is there on both sides.

Go Braves!

Keith

May 29th, 2012
11:23 pm

Yeah, I’d have to say that it worked 1 out of 2 times tonight…or at least it didn’t hurt them. :)

Keith

May 29th, 2012
11:23 pm

*the lineup order* I was referring to..

duronimo

May 29th, 2012
11:27 pm

Chad Durbin has been getting his act together. Good for him.

Who Me?

May 29th, 2012
11:31 pm

Agreed duronimo, I was on him big time 3 weeks ago but they’ve limited his innings and you seem to see his confidence building or coming back, whichever. Bottom line is, if he can give us one good inning of shutout relief, he can stay as far as I’m concerned.

tristan

May 30th, 2012
12:22 am

Constanzaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

David the Shepherd

May 30th, 2012
12:28 am

Good for the Braves. I still believe they must win DESPITE their “manager”. FG makes a pretty good 3rd base coach, but he’ll never be a good manager. He tries to be the players’ buddy & they don’t need another buddy…they need a manager who will hold them accountable to be as good as they can be.

tjhook

May 30th, 2012
12:29 am

Yeah! Constanza’s back!! I love the pitcher batting eighth – Coach Freddie gets the game ball for the speech and the lineup shift!

Brave Decisions

May 30th, 2012
1:00 am

Finally, yes!! http://wp.me/2lqJ1 Love pitcher hitting 8th.

Joe Brave

May 30th, 2012
1:12 am

What do you order up when your team has a losing streak and needs a win? JAKE WESTBROOK.

Man, that pitcher is terrible. Braves stomped all over his pathetic pitching, and his wild pitches and errors gave us the extra runs to guarantee a win!

Buckbaloweme

May 30th, 2012
7:31 am

This team will only go as far as their home runs will take them. They only had 5 or 6 hits Tuesday night and the manager thinks they played great baseball. Just Like Bobby Cox, sit back and wait for the 3 run homer, when it happens everybody’s happy, when it doesn’t, you have long losing streaks.

Homer the Brave

May 30th, 2012
7:41 am

Pitcher batting eighth worked well. Pitcher was usually a guaranteed out which put Constanza as essentially a lead-off hitter in front of Borne. Two sets of speedy legs on base works well to me. I sat behind home plate last night in the Suntrust Club and you could feel the crack when Uggla hit his bomb….amazing! Unfortunately now spoiled from seeing a game any other way!

Carl Farvman

May 30th, 2012
8:02 am

DOB says, “Gonzalez gave a speech Wednesday”

Something tells me that this didn’t rank up there with Herb Brooks’ speech to his ‘80 Olympic ice hockey team. In fact, he probably lot most of them 30 seconds in.

Carl Farvman

May 30th, 2012
8:04 am

“They only had 5 or 6 hits Tuesday night and the manager thinks they played great baseball. ”

This guy actually understands the sport. Should we ask him to move to another board?

Carl Farvman

May 30th, 2012
8:05 am

DOB says, “Gonzalez gave a speech Wednesday”

Something tells me that this didn’t rank up there with Herb Brooks’ speech to his ‘80 Olympic ice hockey team. In fact, he probably [lost] most of them 30 seconds in.

PTCworkman

May 30th, 2012
8:05 am

Braves will finish in last place in the division, all the other 4 teams are better than the Braves. I have been a Brave fan since the 70’s, always will be. But when it all plays out our Braves will be sitting at the bottom. We only have 2 batters with a average over 300, several below 250, some below 200.
You have to be able to hit the ball to win games and the Braves can not. Go Braves!

urban redneck

May 30th, 2012
8:20 am

sweet. hope they make it two in a row ’cause i’m going tonight. i sure wouldn’t bet against huddy tonight.

William O

May 30th, 2012
8:29 am

good pitching is not going to let you go bombs away on a nightly bases. you sometimes have to scratch out runs. A win is a win, we’ll take it. Macs back. We still need to get freddie back as well as chipper. We can over come one being out but not all three of our bombers

William O

May 30th, 2012
8:32 am

We can ride out the storm. We have to find out how to beat the nats though. they worked over branden pretty good. he got his pitch count up too early in the game and started getting too cute with his pitches. you have to attack the zone and keep the ball down. Not let your breaking stuff draft back over the plate

a fan

May 30th, 2012
8:34 am

PTC
very few teams have more then two starters hitting over 300 look it up

BLK09GT

May 30th, 2012
8:36 am

I was a big fan of “Georgie” last year, but of course got hammered by the Heyward apologist. The thing about Constanza is even the weak contact dribblers can become hits and you saw last night how he can disrupt the base paths by distracting the pitchers.

Vesaversa

May 30th, 2012
8:42 am

Gonzalez have become part of the problems not the solution.It is looking more and more like Gonzalez is not the right man for the job in Atlanta.

Funny

May 30th, 2012
9:00 am

Joe Brave – Jake Westbrook is a terrible pitcher….and the Braves got all of 5 hits in the game. That says alot. Just because they got the win, now Freddie says they played a good game etc….still have to go back to only 5 hits.

GaryinBham

May 30th, 2012
9:02 am

WHaaaaaaaahhhhhh! WhaaaaaaaahhhhhhH! I can go to the nursery to hear most of these comments. If you have a thoughtful observation, make it. If you want to talk history, analysis, evaluation or potential FA signings next year, bring it on. If you want to give an attaboy or even to question strategy calls, bring it on. If you just want to whine or if you’re always going to have the same whiney solution FIRE THE MANAGER, TRADE ALL THE PLAYERS, FIRE WREN, get therapy or take a nap or go fix a real problem in your community. Whining wears others OUT

Bobcat

May 30th, 2012
9:03 am

I was very excited when we signed Gonzo as mgr. I always thought he got a raw deal in Miami. Since last September and throughout this year I have changed my mind; I believe we are getting the raw deal. The Braves had good talent, they just need a manager that can inspire them to play to their potential and beyond.

GaryinBham

May 30th, 2012
9:05 am

Now that I got that out of my system, I think the move of Medlin-Constanza was positive in a couple of ways. First, it jolts the young pitchers, gives a wake up call, a little more concentration–got to get it done, because someone’s spot is going away in two weeks. Second, Constanza brings good energy, however long it lasts. Speed is good even on a ground out. Puts pressure on the defense. Nice move.

BrandonLee49

May 30th, 2012
9:07 am

Nice Effort, lets wait an see what happens next.. i don’t think Westbrook will be back on the mound tonight to help them out, though.

Winchester

May 30th, 2012
9:42 am

Finally, there is small hope. Bringing up Constanza, realignment of the batting order with Bourne and Constanza. and prepping Medlin for a starting role is a definite improvement for the team.

Nevertheless, the worry remains that hitting is still punchless and the starting pitching is still dreadful. The game was won by virtue of two homeruns that immediately rung up 4 runs early in the game. Look at the hits between the Braves and the Cardinals. We were lucky.

Degado escaped by the skin of his teeth. Even with a 4 run lead he was lucky to get out alive. Gave up another homerun and was walking his way into another possible loss.

Venters is so derailed that his appearance is costing this team forward movement. Let’s hope that this win does something for the mentality of this club.

BravesDA

May 30th, 2012
10:27 am

Watching the game last night, I counted at least two plays that Pastornicky should’ve made:

1. Missed DP – where he threw to Uggs @ 2B instead of taking it himself. The play took entirely too long to develop. Delgado induced a fly out of the next batter thus limiting the damage.
2. Molina’s run-scoring play up the middle in the 4th. The Rev dove and missed the ball. On replays you can see McCann yelling out a expletive in frustration.

Both would’ve probably been more routine with a better defensive player. Not trying to bash Pastornicky (I actually like some of the patience he’s shown batting 8th), but his limited range does hurt our pitchers, driving up pitch counts & extending innings. Pitching and defense not only wins games, but go hand in hand.

Understand Braves’ position to allow Simmons some seasoning, but if he’s the future why not call up Simmons now?

O'flarity's water bottle

May 30th, 2012
11:29 am

I venters should ge to triple A for some work. His ex-pitching coach should help hime with some regularity and calmness…

Baseball Godz

May 30th, 2012
11:39 am

Dear Braves,
I answered your prayers and sent you a putz called Westbrook.
You are welcome.

Tommy

May 30th, 2012
11:43 am

@Oflaritys water bottle. Been a long time my friend. Where you been? You do know me. Just under a different name. Welcome back to Brave country. Venters is throwing too hard.

Buster brave

May 30th, 2012
11:43 am

DOES THIS MEAN DELGADO IS OUR STOPPER ? APPEARS TO BE,JUST SAYIN’……………

Trainwreck

May 30th, 2012
11:44 am

Let’s string some W’s together now. Win tonight and take another series from the Cards will be a nice way to start getting back in the groove.

O'flarity's water bottle

May 30th, 2012
11:54 am

Tommy

May 30th, 2012
11:58 am

Don

May 30th, 2012
12:00 pm

@Buster brave: Jake Westbrook is our stopper, lol.

O'flarity's water bottle

May 30th, 2012
12:01 pm

tommy, u think it is how hard he is throwing?

O'flarity's water bottle

May 30th, 2012
12:04 pm

i think it is mechanics, he is giving too much thought to the throw.

Tommy

May 30th, 2012
12:08 pm

@Oflarity Yes I do. He is throwing so hard that he can not control his slider. When he gets behind he throws the fastball right down the middle. I think he will figure it out and be OK. Are you saying that you have been sick. Do you remember my other name. If you do please be quiet.

O'flarity's water bottle

May 30th, 2012
12:18 pm

my title is a joke of oflarity getting mono two years ago…

Tommy

May 30th, 2012
12:21 pm

Ok Anya Hashimika Yobosayo Welcome back to Braves country. Go Braves!!!!

One and 0

May 30th, 2012
12:24 pm

Hello, I’m the new guy in town. I just kicked 0-9’s butt out of town. He thought he would be in the news today but guess he was wrong. Here’s hoping my new buddy, “Two and 0″ moves in with me tonight.

donald cerasuolo

May 30th, 2012
12:50 pm

Okay now what if these goggles don’t work? What next, I lived around the Atlanta area for 7 years and he can’t see a decent eye doctor perhaps maybe he needs to get lasik surgery done.

BRAVES SUCK

May 30th, 2012
12:57 pm

Fire Fredi G. NOW

Paul in Richmond

May 30th, 2012
1:48 pm

The most positive thing that came out of yesterday’s game was four walks.
Patient hitting with better pitch selection and the big hits will come.

baseball nut

May 30th, 2012
2:04 pm

Stop, Stop already with references to Chipper not being in the lineup.
Sure we all wish he was there and understand the value he adds to winning games but,
if you’re a real Braves fan such printed or spoken references at this point in time
are so, so short sighted. What will you be saying next year (2013)?
Like “Oh if Chipper were only here”?
Blah! Blah! Blah, etc. etc. etc.
Come on, let’s forget about Chipper not in the lineup. If he plays, great. If he doesn’t
there’s nothing that can be done about it so move on.

James Toolin

May 30th, 2012
4:06 pm

Great win! On or off DL, no disadvantage!

Billie in Texas

May 30th, 2012
5:03 pm

I agree whole-heartly with Bobcat. We need a manager that will inspire his team – and that is NOT GREDFI I never miss a game, and love the Braves, but Fredi has got to go.

Billie in Texas

May 30th, 2012
5:04 pm

oops – misspelled the great Fredi’s name…..Sorry! Still doesn’t change my opinion.

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November 28th, 2013
3:05 am

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