Archive for October, 2012

Braves’ Medlen repeats as NL Pitcher of the Month

PITTSBURGH – After winning the National League Pitcher of the Month award for August in his first month in the Braves’ starting rotation, Kris Medlen underscored his run of remarkable pitching by winning the award again Tuesday.

Medlen was named NL Pitcher of the Month for September, becoming the first to win the award in consecutive months since Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez in April-May 2010, and the first Brave since Greg Maddux in June-July 2001.

He is 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 12 starts this season since moving from the bullpen to the rotation on July 31, and Medlen was 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in six September starts, collecting 46 strikeouts with only five walks in 43 innings. He had a career-high 12 strikeouts in a five-hit complete game against the Rockies on Sept. 3, then beat that mark with 13 strikeouts in seven innings against Washington on Sept. 14.

“Obviously he’s well deserving,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said of the repeat NL pitcher award. “He’s …

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Braves shift focus to Friday’s Wild Card game

The Braves’ chances of reeling in the Nationals and winning an NL East title were reduced after they lost three in a row to the Padres and Phillies back on Aug. 29-Sept. 1 and again after they got swept in three at Milwaukee Sept. 10-12. But the hopes didn’t end until Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the skidding Pirates at mostly empty PNC Park.

Jeff Locke, a former second-round draft pick by the Braves, had the best game of his young career and picked up his first win while eliminating the Braves from NL East title contention Monday. (AP Photo)

Jeff Locke, a former second-round draft pick by the Braves, had the best game of his young career and picked up his first win while eliminating the Braves from NL East title contention Monday. (AP Photo)

The Pirates, who only a day before had lost for the 22nd time in 29 games to secure their 20th consecutive losing season, didn’t figure to be the team to drive the proverbial final nail in the Braves’ division-title hopes, especially with ex-Braves prospect Jeff Locke pitching for the Bucs. He of the 0-6 record and 7.08 ERA in nine previous career starts.

But in this often unusual and inconsistent Braves season, the unexpected …

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Few tickets left for Braves Wild Card game Friday

It’s uncertain which team the Braves will face — St. Louis or Los Angeles — or what time the game will start, but tickets are going fast for the National League Wild Card game Friday at Turner Field.

Some tickets remained as of Tuesday noon, but most were standing-room only. Braves parking lots are sold out and fans are advised to take MARTA to the game.

The Braves will play either the Cardinals or the  Dodgers on Friday, with the winner advancing to a best-of-five Division Series that would start Sunday. If the Braves advance to the Division Series, Games 1 and 2 would be at Turner Field Sunday and Monday.

The Cardinals can clinch a wild-card spot Tuesday with either a win against Cincinnati or a Dodgers loss against San Francisco.

For available seat locations or to purchase tickets for Wild Card game or tickets and parking for the Division Series, please go to braves.com/postseason.

The starting time for Friday’s game isn’t expected to be announced until the second …

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Braves quotes after Monday’s loss to Pirates

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On missed scoring chances

“We had some opportunities. We had, what, first and second with one out, and Mac rolled into a double play. And bases loaded with two out and Freeman rolled over one. But yeah, it’s hard to win ballgames with two hits and one run. Pauly [Braves starter Paul Maholm] was outstanding. He really was.

“I thought the ball Simmons hit early in the game [to the left-field wall] had a chance. I thought that had more of a chance than the one that Marte hit [home run] to center; I thought maybe that would go off the wall, but it cleared the fence.”

More on Maholm

“Pauly was outstanding. A right-handed dominant lineup, and he gave up what, five hits and two runs? He did a nice job. He deserves a better fate, but we just didn’t get the bats going.”

Encouraged by Maholm’s recent starts?

“He’s been terrific. I feel like you’ve got a real good chance to win every time he goes out there.”

On lack of offense, even during the …

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Braves’ NL East title hopes end in 2-1 loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH – The Braves’ division title hopes ended Monday night and one of their own former pitching prospects had plenty to do with it.

Rookie left-hander Jeff Locke, a second-round draft pick by the Braves in 2006 and part of the trio they gave to get Nate McLouth, limited the Braves to one run and two hits in six innings of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2-1 win on Monday night at PNC Park, clinching the National League East title for Washington.

The Braves were three games behind the first-place Nationals with only three games to play before Monday, meaning they needed to sweep the Pirates and have the Nationals get swept by Philadelphia to force a division tiebreaker. The Nats later lost 2-0, but by then it didn’t matter.

The Braves dropped the series opener against a skidding Pirates team and are now are assured of playing in Friday’s Wild Card game in Atlanta against St. Louis or the Los Angeles Dodgers, most likely the Cardinals.

“We wanted to go out and win the …

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Minor would start potential NL East tiebreaker

PITTSBURGH – In the unlikely event that the Braves forced a tiebreaker with the Washington Nationals, Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said Mike Minor would start in that single game Thursday in Washington to determine the division champion.

The Braves trailed the first-place Nationals by three games before Monday, meaning Atlanta needed to sweep the Pirates and Washington would have to be swept in its last three games against Philadelphia to create a tie. In that case, the winner of the Thursday game would be the division champion and advance to a best-of-five division series, while the loser would play in the Wild Card game the next day on Friday.

If the Nationals clinch the NL East before the regular season ends, Minor’s next start would likely be in a potential Game 2 of the division series that would start Sunday in Atlanta, provided the Braves won the Wild Card “play-in” game Friday.

Minor (11-10) has a 2.21 ERA and .193 opponents’ average in 15 starts since the …

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Chipper stays in lineup for 7th consecutive start

PITTSBURGH — After playing every inning of the eventful, emotion-filled six-game homestand that ended Sunday, Chipper Jones was back in the lineup Monday for his season-high seventh consecutive start, to the surprise of some.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez had said Sunday that he might rest the 40-year-old retiring third baseman Monday because “for me, you’re borderline putting him in a situation where he could get hurt.”

But he added at that time, “I’ve been known to get talked out of those things as you well know with him.”

Jones didn’t have to do much persuading.

“I need to see a lefty today,” the switch-hitter said, referring to Jeff Locke, who started Monday and was the only Pirates lefty scheduled to pitch in the series. “I’m not feeling real good at the plate, and I need to get a couple of [at-bats] off of a lefty. It’ll be my last chance before Friday.

“I’ll probably take tomorrow [off].”

Gonzalez said he and Jones discussed the situation Sunday …

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Uggla scratched from lineup for swollen hand

PITTSBURGH – The gash on Braves second baseman Dan Uggla’s right hand didn’t keep him out of the lineup for the past week, but the swelling that ensued after Sunday night’s flight to Pittsburgh did the trick.

Uggla was scratched from the lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Pirates due to swelling around three staples that held together a cut on his right hand.

He cut his hand above the first knuckle on his index finger during the Braves’ postgame celebration a week ago after they clinched a wild-card playoff berth. Uggla reached into a cooler and apparently sliced his hand on a glass someone had dropped inside.

“We’ll give him a day to kind of settle that down and see what happens tomorrow,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, who thinks Uggla will be back in the lineup Tuesday for the Braves’ next-to-last game of the regular season. “Bubba [head trainer Jeff Porter] said let’s be proactive an keep anything else from happening with it.

“It must …

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Since Sid slid, it’s been 2 decades of losing for Pirates

PITTSBURGH – If you’re a Pittsburgh Pirates fan, can you imagine what it must be like to hear folks complain about the Braves going back to the postseason for “only” the second time since 2005? Or better yet, to hear complaints about the Braves winning 14 consecutive division titles but only one World Series in that stretch?

Not much good has happened to the Pirates since Sid slid in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.

Not much good has happened to the Pirates since Sid slid in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS.

We say this only because the Braves arrived in Pittsburgh last night only hours after Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan blew a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Reds that assured the Pirates of their 20th consecutive losing season. Think about that a moment. Twenty consecutive losing seasons. In a town with deep baseball roots and tradition, not to mention one of the two or three nicest ballparks in the majors.

Twenty consecutive losing seasons. It’s difficult to even comprehend.

And to make matters worse, each of the past two years under manager Clint …

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