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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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Braves beat Mets in fitting Chipper farewell – updated

The Chipper Jones farewell tour finally hit home this weekend, in more ways than one.

Jones played the ninth inning of his final regular season game at Turner Field with a lump in his throat, as he was cheered and chanted for by some 50,635 fans. He broke into tears after the Braves’ 6-2 win over the Mets, when he embraced his mom and dad in the stands behind home plate.

“I’ve been fine all weekend,” Jones said. “I’ve been cowboy-ing up all week, trying to hold back the tears. But obviously when it comes full circle and you stand there in front of 50,000 people and tell your mom and dad that you love them…

“It means a lot to me to have gone 35-40 years from the backyard in Pierson, Fla. and here we are standing in a big league stadium in Atlanta. And I have my own weekend. That’s bringing it full circle.”

Jones had given Lynne and Larry Jones and a third consecutive sell-out crowd a jaunt down memory lane, with four charging plays at third base, two walks …

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Bourn returns to Braves lineup

Braves center fielder Michael Bourn returned to the Braves lineup Sunday after missing six games with a sprained left thumb.

Bourn was not in the Braves’ original lineup Sunday morning but apparently showed manager Fredi Gonzalez he was ready to go after taking some swings in the indoor cages.

An MRI revealed no structural damage to his thumb, but Bourn had been dealing with soreness since he injured his thumb sliding head first into second base on Sept. 22 in Philadelphia.

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Freeman’s power surge comes at opportune time

Freddie Freeman picked a pretty good time for a power surge. The Braves first baseman had hit three home runs in six games heading into Saturday, including the walk-off shot that clinched a playoff berth for the Braves Tuesday night.

Freeman has a new career-high 23 home runs on the season, two more than he hit as a rookie last year. He also leads the Braves with 94 RBIs and could become the first Brave since Jeff Francoeur in 2007 to drive in 100 runs.

Francoeur drove in 105 runs in at age 23, his second full season in the majors. Freeman turned 23 on Sept. 12 and is in his second full season.

“I don’t consider myself a power hitter, I stay gap-to-gap,” Freeman said. “I guess I play at a position where I do need to hit some home runs, but my goal is to get hits, get on base, drive runs in when they’re on there, and if they do come by home runs, they come by home runs.”

The two-run shot he hit Tuesday night was the seventh game-ending home run to clinch a playoff …

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Duda HR spoils Chipper Night, Mets beat Braves 3-1

Four days after he hit the Shot Heard ‘Round Braves Country, Freddie Freeman hit a shot that looked like it might provide an appropriate outcome on Chipper Jones tribute night at Turner Field.

But after Freeman put the Braves ahead 1-0 on his fourth-inning homer, Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer off Tim Hudson in the seventh to send the New York Mets to a 3-1 win before a sellout crowd of 51,910, the largest of the season in Atlanta.

“Very rarely do you feel like just one pitch cost you the game, but tonight it was one pitch,” said Hudson (16-7), who gave up the homer with two out on a sinker with the count full, on the ninth pitch. “It’s frustrating, obviously. We lost the ballgame on that one pitch. If I throw that same pitch [again], he might pop it up. He just got the barrel to it and hit it over the fence.”

The Braves had their five-game winning streak snapped and wasted a chance to gain a game on National League East leader Washington, which trailed 9-1 …

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Cut hand doesn’t keep Uggla out of Braves lineup

When he found out that Dan Uggla had sliced open his hand during the Braves’ postgame celebration Tuesday, manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn’t bother asking Uggla if he could play the next day. He knew what the answer would be from the second baseman who’s built like a fireplug and takes pride in being as sturdy as one.

“I didn’t even ask Bubba [head trainer Jeff Porter] if he couldn’t play,” Gonzalez said. “I said I’m going to put him in the lineup. He said, ‘yeah, do it.’”

The manager recalled the July 24 incident at Miami when Uggla was hit by a fastball that smashed into the left earflap of his batting helmet.

“Remember that? I mean, pow!” Gonzalez said. “He didn’t even get knocked down. He went to first base. I went out and he said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, you got hit in the [bleeping] head. He said, ‘Don’t ever come out here like that again.’ He didn’t even go down. Some other guys would have been rolling …

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Kimbrel enjoys four-strikeout chance

In the lofty air where Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is dwelling these days, it’s not all serious business. It’s pretty fun too.

That’s why when catcher Brian McCann apologized to Kimbrel after Wednesday’s game for letting a wild pitch get past him, Kimbrel just smiled and said “I didn’t mind.”

He was kidding around, of course, but because that batter, Donovan Solano, reached base on a third strike, Kimbrel was able to strike out four batters in the inning. It’s something only three other Atlanta Braves pitchers have ever done: Mark Wohlers (1995), Paul Assenmacher (1989) and Phil Niekro (1977).

“It was pretty cool,” Kimbrel said.

Kimbrel said he has struck out four in an inning before in the minor leagues, and thinks he probably struck out as many as five in an inning at Lee High School in Huntsville, Ala.

“I was throwing the ball all over the plate in high school,” said Kimbrel, who is reminded of that all the time by his former high school catcher and …

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Braves beat Marlins and clinch top wild card spot – updated

No need to break out the bubbly on Wednesday night, but the Braves clinched home-field advantage in a potential wild card game and continued trying to close the gap on the Nationals.

The Braves backed up their playoff-berth clinching victory in the series opener with a 3-0 win Wednesday night over the Marlins. After the Cardinals lost in Houston, the Braves were assured of finishing as the top National League wild card team and would host a one-game playoff on Oct. 5.

But for Paul Maholm and the Braves, their focus was trying to keep pace with the Nationals, who won Wednesday and maintained a four-game lead in the NL East with seven games to play.

Maholm dominated the Marlins with 6 2/3 innings of shutout work in what he treated as a test run for the playoffs.

“Obviously I’ve never been in this position in my career,” said Maholm, who played his first seven seasons with the Pirates and first four months this season with the Cubs. “I tried to do as much as I could to …

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Chipper soaking up his last homestand

As electric as the ninth inning was in the Braves playoff-clinching win over the Marlins on Tuesday night, Chipper Jones took a moment earlier in the game, walking out on deck, to let it sink in that this was his final homestand and the countdown to retirement is starting in earnest.

“Just kind of looked up into the rafters and breathed it all in because I know it’s not going to happen too many more times,” Jones said. “And I just wanted to enjoy it. Just an old man taking it all in, breathing it all in one last time before I hit the bricks.”

Jones’ parents are coming in town Thursday from Texas to be there for the pre-game ceremony Friday night, which starts at 7 p.m. He has two of his buddies, country musicians Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, coming to Sunday’s game. Former Hawk Tracy McGrady was out at batting practice on Tuesday, and Jones said Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez was planning to come to Wednesday night’s game.

Jones said he received boots from the …

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Braves walk off to playoff berth

The Braves have been saying since the first day of spring training this season was going to be different, that they were going to put September’s collapse to good use.

They let the memory of Freddie Freeman throwing his helmet to the ground in disgust after hitting into a double play against the Phillies linger, and that’s OK. It was all the more reason to enjoy the trajectory of where that helmet – and the Braves – went Tuesday night.

That thing went flying high into the air at Turner Field after Freeman hit his first career walk-off home run to beat the Marlins 4-3, secure at least a wild card berth, make some history for Kris Medlen and follow a fist-pumping Chipper Jones into a scrum of ecstatic teammates at home plate.

“This is the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me,” said Freeman, whose close-cropped hair had been caked in mud and doused with champagne. “2012 has come full circle. It’s a great moment, and it’s a great moment for this team.”

A …

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