Braves cap rousing homestand with 6-1 win over Astros

Even after they’d won seven of the first nine games on their homestand, the Braves knew they had to beat lowly Houston on Sunday to avoid the figurative womp-womp sound of a letdown.

And when the Astros tied the score in the sixth inning, things looked dicey.

But what happened next, and the homestand in general, served to illustrate differences between this Braves team and those of recent seasons.

Chipper Jones scored the go-ahead run on a two-out wild pitch and Paul Janish followed with a two-run single in a three-run sixth inning that sent to the Braves to a 6-1 win at Turner Field.

“The fact that we’re buckling down and really focusing and beating the teams we feel we should beat is the biggest difference so far,” said Kris Medlen, who pitched into the sixth inning in his second impressive start since moving from the bullpen. “Obviously the Nats [Washington Nationals] are still giving us some trouble, but we’ve just got to keep battling. There’s a lot of games left.”

The second-place Braves have won 10 of 12 games and four consecutive series since splitting a four-gamer at Washington two weeks ago. They stayed three games behind the equally hot Nationals atop the National League East standings.

The Braves’ 20-7 record since July 5 includes a 16-4 mark against division opponents.

“We’ve got to keep winning,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves play a three-game series starting Monday night at Philadelphia, then three at New York against the Mets to finish the trip. “We’ve got six more games against [Washington], a series there and a series back here. We’ve got to keep winning, keep it there within two games, because it seems like they’re going to keep winning.

“We’ve got to take care of our business and what’s in front of us. Hopefully stay within striking distance, a game or two, and when we play those guys try to do some damage.”

Medlen was charged with five hits, one run and two walks with six strikeouts in 5-1/3 innings, and the Braves improved to 15-1 in the 16 games he’s started in 2010 and this season (he missed almost the entire 2011 season recovering from elbow surgery).

He’ll stay in the rotation at least until Tommy Hanson returns from the disabled list, and if he keeps pitching like he has it might be difficult to move him back to the bullpen.

“When Tommy comes back if I go back to the ‘pen, I’m going to help just as much,” Medlen said. “It hasn’t change my mindset at all. I know the situation. I know what I can do personally, and if there had to be one person on the pitching staff who had to go back and forth, I would pick me. I just think I’m mentally strong enough, and I’ve been through it before.”

He has allowed two earned runs and nine hits in 10-1/3 innings of two starts, and Medlen is 6-0 with a 3.63 ERA in his past 16 starts, with 19 walks and 71 strikeouts in 94-1/3 innings. He’s said all along, starting is what he prefers.

“It’s so much fun,” he said after Sundays’ game, when he got no decision. “I don’t have the nerves that I had before [when he was a starter in past years]. I feel really confident with Mac and Rossy behind the plate. We execute the gameplan and I think if we do that, we’re going to win games when I pitch. I have that kind of confidence, and the offense is playing real well too.”

“He’s a lot of fun to catch,” said backup catcher David Ross, who put the Braves up 1-0 with a second-inning homer Sunday. “He doesn’t back off at any time. He’s never scared, he’s never afraid to throw any pitch. You call a pitch, he’s going to throw it to the best of his ability.”

The Astros have won just two of their past 19 games, and one of those was a 3-2 win Saturday at Turner Field. The Braves would never have admitted it, but going into Sunday’s game, it felt like a must-win situation if the homestand was to feel successful. And they made it happen.

Ross’s early homer made it 12 homers and 27 RBIs in the past 28 games for him and starting catcher Brian McCann.

Medlen protected the 1-0 lead until the sixth inning, when he was replaced after giving up consecutive one-out singles, the second on a groundball by Brett Wallace. With the right-hander at 79 pitches, after throwing 57 in his first start, Gonzalez decided to bring in reliever Cory Gearrin.

Gearrin gave up a game-tying double to the only batter he faced, Justin Maxwell, who had four hits including two homers Saturday.

With two runners in scoring position, Jonny Venters came in and put out the fire. Venters, who’d been out a week resting a sore elbow, struck out Matt Downs and, after an intentional walk, induced a bases-loaded grounder to end the inning.

The Braves regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, when  Jones singled with one out to get things started. Freddie Freeman followed with a single, and one out later Ross hit an infield single to load the bases.

Jones scored on a wild pitch for a 2-1 lead before Janish singled to put the Braves up 4-1. Janish is in the lineup for defense while shortstop Andrelton Simmons recovers from a broken hand. But he came through with the biggest hit of the game Sunday.

“Obviously my priority is defense and I take a lot of pride in it,” Janish said. “But at the same time, especially in circumstances like that, when a [pitcher] is having a good day and we finally get something going, to be able to cash in on it — it’s big for a lot of reasons.”

Bouncing back with a win Sunday against a team they should beat was important, make no mistake.

“As soon as you take your foot off the gas, you’re looking at something like last year,” Ross said. “So we try to stay focused on each game. This [Houston] is a major league team. I know we’re supposed to beat them, but they pitched really good the last two days and we’re lucky to get out of here with a win. We had some guys get key hits and that’s what good teams do.”

“Now it’s important for us to take care of business on the road,” said Jones, who added an RBI double in the seventh inning.

50 comments Add your comment

Larry

August 5th, 2012
8:02 pm

Medlen back in the pen for Tommy? Never!

Larry

August 5th, 2012
8:04 pm

If all we had left for a 7th and deciding game who would YOU pick to start, Medlen or Hanson?

Thought so!

bruce

August 5th, 2012
8:13 pm

Medlen = FIERCE Compeitor

BillEGoat

August 5th, 2012
8:19 pm

Here are stats for two Atlanta players. Player A has a .311 OBP, has scored 38 runs, and has 56 RBI’s. Player B has a .342 OBP, has scored 61 runs, and has 54 RBI’s. The surprise might be that player A is McCann, and player B is Uggla. As bad as Dan has looked, it IS surprising that, in comparison to Bryan, he has contrbuted so much to the team.

Coach (2012 Fredi's Beisbol Fandango)

August 5th, 2012
8:26 pm

Medlen should have been in the rotation months ago. This 2012 Braves team could be in 1st right now,if not for the mental mistakes both in their front office, and on the field.

Automatic Out Uggla

August 5th, 2012
8:34 pm

Hitting .127 over the past 50 games with only 2 HR’s and 63 strikeouts should not be construed as contributing for the highest paid 2nd baseman in MLB. Uggla’s stats are beyond pathetic.

Rowsdower

August 5th, 2012
8:49 pm

@BillEGoat – I’ve been trying to get that through the thick skulls of the haters on this blog for over a month. Batting average is an outdated stat. While a .342 OBP isn’t great for a middle of the lineup hitter, it is very good for a 7 hole hitter. If starts hitting again, which i’m sure he will, his OBP will only go up.

He draws his walks, he hustles and he isn’t awful in the field. Get off his back…

Lobosolo

August 5th, 2012
8:52 pm

You major league crybabies will be blubbering about Uggla if the Braves win the World Series…. y’all are starting to sound like 4-year old girls… there is no crying in baseball…. go outside and have a stomping fit if it will help you, but for the sake of mankind could you QUIT CRYING!!! Limpy Larry, tell them, Man…. there is no crying in baseball!!!

Lobosolo

August 5th, 2012
8:55 pm

Limpy, you still haven’t got that “we” thing down yet, do you… what are you, just plumb dumb??? You would be one of the least welcome in the Braves clubhouse, believe me, although I’d love to see you waltz in there and tell “your teammates” how to get it done…. give it a rest, whiner…

RaleighDawg

August 5th, 2012
10:31 pm

WTF ? What exactly did Chipper do to “lift the Braves” ? Astros’ pitcher throws a wild pitch that I could have scored on for the go-ahead run, then hits a meaning double to bring in Heyward after Jannish actually got the hit that “lift(ed) the Braves” to victory.

I am so over the media acting like anything this guy does is world class…I wonder whose rear the media will kiss after Chipper has gone to the the big forest in the west ?

davidputty

August 5th, 2012
10:44 pm

To the Uggla apologists on here, pointing out that he has a .342 OBP or that he “draws his walks” or that “he hustles” or that he “isn’t awful in the field,” is beside the point. I don’t care if he finishes the season with a .400 OBP (which he will not), you can’t have a guy disappear for two months and then built his stats back up with a hot streak, getting lots of hits and RBIs when the team is either way ahead or hopelessly behind. As for hustling, when they start letting him hustle to first after one of his miserable strikeouts, I’ll give hustle more credence. Heyward hustles, but I guess you only get credit for hustling when you’ve not accomplishing anything with it.

FBYJ

August 5th, 2012
10:53 pm

Among NL 2nd basemen, Uggla ranks third in home runs (one behind the co-leaders), third in RBI, first in walks, and fifth in on-base percentage … and that’s despite a HORRENDOUS slump. Furthermore, his OBP (0.342) is nearly identical to those of Bourn (0.343), Hayward (0.347), and Freeman (0.351). He’s certainly not hurting us in the field, and there is every reason to expect his offensive production to improve over the next two months. I, for one, am glad Freddie has left him in the line-up to work out his problems. I think we’ll need the “fully functional” Uggla before the season is over.

Paul In Richmond.

August 5th, 2012
11:14 pm

Boy it sure is easy when you score 4-6 runs. When we were losing (scoring 1 or 2 runs) the obsession was on our pitching. Give the guys a lead and they pitch better.

Keep the bats swinging…

Tom Shoeamte

August 6th, 2012
12:05 am

What a great sport and what a great bunch of fans. I love reading the comments. Braves are and have been a joy to watch. God bless you.

Peter

August 6th, 2012
2:53 am

GO BRAVES……GO FOR THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!

[...] Chipper continues amazing final season, lifts Braves to win over Astros [...]

HelpBraves'Fans

August 6th, 2012
7:16 am

What did Chipper do to “lift” the Braves? He got it all started.

Jerry

August 6th, 2012
7:52 am

I agree with Medlen, there is a difference in the Braves this year. Just a bit more fire and a lot less quit. Tip of the cap to Freddie and whoever else is responsible.

cdbgolf

August 6th, 2012
8:08 am

You can not compare Uggla’s stats with other 2nd basemen.He was brought here to provide power and RBI’s which he has not provided this year.They are not paying him to get on base,so throw his OBP out the window.They are paying him to drive runners home which he does not do.Also when he gets 2 strikes,he might as well go sit down,he is a terrible 2 strike hitter.I would love to see what percentage of balls he puts in play after he is down 2 strikes.

David Puddy

August 6th, 2012
8:17 am

“You major league crybabies will be blubbering about Uggla if the Braves win the World Series”

Nice team and beating bad teams. Don’t hold your breath on the WS talk.

GTJoe

August 6th, 2012
8:52 am

cdbgolf – what a short memory you have……he JUST had a 2-out, 2 strike, 2 run hit Saturday!

oldmike

August 6th, 2012
8:56 am

When Uggla was hiiting earlier this year his approach was so much better. Many balls to the RF gap. He needs to try to drive the ball to the opposite field and everything will fall into place. Imagine this team with him producing his career numbers again. And Simmons back at his level b/f the injury.

Ry

August 6th, 2012
9:14 am

Why is McCann getting a pass so far this season? His numbers are approaching Uggla’s at .236 and his OBP is horrible at just over .300. He had one good month, but otherwise has been awful at the plate. Him and Uggla have been a huge drag on the offense.

Keith

August 6th, 2012
10:05 am

Yes, uggla has shown august signs of coming around. Has had a few big hits that I remember…

hopefully, it’s a sign that his avg is on the rise….or at least that he is starting to heat up.

BartBuzz

August 6th, 2012
10:06 am

Medlen deserves to start over Hanson. The Braves better sign him to a long-term contract.

BartBuzz

August 6th, 2012
10:10 am

About Uggla. Just when I think he’s turned the corner, he goes 0-4 with two Ks. Uggla really needs to be benched. Put Prado at second and one of the bench players at left. What’s wrong with that?

Lost Cause

August 6th, 2012
10:10 am

I would take Medlen in a hear beat of Hanson this year! Medlen and Prado the future!

oldsquid

August 6th, 2012
10:31 am

Medlen deserves to be in the rotation. Should have been there back when he was sent to the minors to stretch out for starting. It’s very worrying that management waffled on that decision.

If they get Simmons back and Uggla still hasn’t started hitting, they should send him down and let Janish play second.

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
10:50 am

Hanson has 12 wins. Enough said.

lllllllllsssss

August 6th, 2012
11:18 am

I just hope Uggla hot streak this year comes in the last month of the regular season. They sure need some production out of him.

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
11:23 am

Be patient. It’s coming. However you will not catch Nats because they are the LUCKIEST team in baseball. Not better than Braves. Just lucky.

The Brave Californian

August 6th, 2012
11:43 am

Regarding Uggla: On Base Percentage (OBP) is a frail and misleading stat. Here’s why: Suppose a hitter comes to the plate with runners in scoring position. He walks. Unless the bases are loaded, he has not gotten a run over, he has just “passed the baton” to the player behind him. Now suppose the player behind him then strikes out, or pops up, or otherwise fails to cash those runners in. How has the first player helped the team? A walk is manifestly NOT as good as a hit with RISP!

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
11:47 am

Uggla will lead you to the promised land. BE PATIENT.

BartBuzz

August 6th, 2012
11:56 am

Since when has “the promised land’ become synonymous with “next year?”

Preston Hannatized

August 6th, 2012
11:56 am

The Braves have enjoyed feasting on a ridiculously easy schedule – and there is no fault in that. The Phillies and Mets are ahead on the road. Both have sent up the white flag.

Good news — The Nats have the much tougher schedule remaining.

Wutehvah

August 6th, 2012
11:59 am

We need to keep beating the teams we “should” beat. Love Medlen starting!!

Brandon

August 6th, 2012
12:10 pm

Tommy Hanson has 12 wins, but

he’s made 22 starts ( only 9 have been quality starts because he hardly ever pitches 6 innings and/or he gives up more than 3 ER in the start.) He has very high run support (5.27 per game) and the braves have bailed him out many times this season

Blobie

August 6th, 2012
12:21 pm

I dusted off the old VCR to watch a tape of the 1988 Braves to see if I was correct. It turns out that watching today’s version of my “only” favorite team, and they have been my team since about 1956 (yes 56 not 66), is starting to feel like the dull, go through the motions, almost lazy teams of the ’70’s and “80’s. I realize this team has enough talent to make the playoffs. I hope it’s just the August dog days, but I don’t see enough battling at bats and I see too many bases given up to opposing teams by fielders which could have been prevented. Maybe I just watch too many Monday games.

Braint

August 6th, 2012
12:32 pm

If you are willing to allow Venters to get 2 outs in the 6th inning then why wouldn’t you put him in to protect the 1-0 lead? I’m not complaining about Fredi just thought it was a curious choice especially since Guerin has worked so much in the last few days.

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
12:48 pm

What a bunch of whiners. Uggla will put you in playofs. Hansojn will have more wins. Medlen will do just fine as long man. Quit whining and enjoy the ride.

1991 braves

August 6th, 2012
1:12 pm

Andrew, the Nats aren’t lucky. When your starters have the best E.R.A. in the national league, and when your team E.R.A. is the best in N.L.that isn’t luck. The braves won 14 division titles with the best pitching staff in the N.L. I wouldn’t call the braves lucky when they were winning those titles. If anything the braves might get lucky down the stretch when the Nats sit their #1 starter strasburg. If they really sit him, braves pitching could match up well with the Nats in a 5 game series.

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
1:16 pm

If they are not lucky than why do they score 6 unearned runs in 9th inning, Why do they get every call go there way.. They are not that good. They are LUCKY.

Denny Lemaster

August 6th, 2012
1:30 pm

Ugly is not leading the Braves to the promise land. Even if he gets semi hot now, he will still hit under .250 and less than 25 dingers for the year. His RBI totals and such are way down also. Simpson said on TV Sunday or maybe it was Sat night that Ugly’s uppercut swing was what was killing him and that his job was not to walk but to hit homers. Well, he is walking, striking out and not hitting homers. Another over paid flop of a When’s GMship. Nothing DLowe and now this bum. Some promise land. He is the heavy iron around the neck of the Braves. I’d rather have Johnson in LF and move Prado to 2B. At least Johnson makes something happen with hits and good D. Ugly just swings and misses on breaking balls in the dirt in the left hand batters box.

John Lenin

August 6th, 2012
2:52 pm

Let’s keep our Monday winning streak alive. GO BRAVES!!!

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
2:59 pm

@Denny Lemaster You areMessing with chemistry of team. Not good. Your winning so leave it alone.

Wutehvah

August 6th, 2012
3:14 pm

Look, we’re 16 games over .500 with Uggla slumping. He’s done it in the past and I expect he’ll do it again. Go Braves!!

urban redneck

August 6th, 2012
3:19 pm

awwwwwwwwwww, that’s nice. i haven’t heard anyone called a bum on this blog in a while. go bravos.

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
3:37 pm

J-Hey and Roadrunner go yikkety tonite.

Lefty

August 6th, 2012
4:01 pm

Keep Janish on the team when the kid-shortstop comes back from the hand injury.// Also, realize that we have four “number three or four” starters. But pretty good ones.

Andrew

August 6th, 2012
4:33 pm

Braves make Phanatic cry.

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