Braves are rolling, but Gonzalez wants more

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm •  Published: July 1, 2013
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Uggla has averaged a strikeout every 2.5 at-bats, but two days after first wearing contact lenses June 21 at Milwaukee, he's hit .348 in his last six games to finally get his average over .200.

But Justin Upton, who carried the team as the NL player of the month in April, hit .226 in June with just one homer and eight RBIs. His brother B.J. Upton hit .238 in June, but his .177 average this season is a major disappointment for a player signed to the richest free-agent contract in franchise history.

"Those averages — it's going to be tough to raise them," Gonzalez said. "But I think if you look at the individual months or look at a certain series or 10-day periods and you see good batting averages, total bases and home run total, I think in the big picture that's going to be good."

Gonzalez has what appears to be his best club in three years as manager.

Thanks to Freeman, whose .422 average with runners in scoring position ranks third in the NL, the Braves haven't lacked consistency in the cleanup spot.

"He's consistent, man, really consistent," Heyward said. "He wants to be in that spot every time. He goes up there and tries to put up a good at-bat and get a pitch to hit hard. You don't take it for granted. You really appreciate that about him."

Freeman's confidence has boosted the morale of teammates who sometimes can't shake off a slump.

"He's just starting to scratch the surface of his talent level," Uggla said. "He's starting to figure that out, starting to realize how good he is. It's a fun thing to watch. It's cool to see him, especially with runners on base, he locks in that much more. More times than not, he's going to get the job done."

And it appears, so is Atlanta.

With the Uptons, Heyward, Freeman, McCann and Uggla each capable of big power surges, the Braves have a formidable lineup. They are 44-9 with at least one homer.

But facing a Miami team that has the majors' worst winning percentage, Freeman cautions that everyone has to stay focused.

"Obviously the Marlins are behind us, but we know they're going to come in here and try to spoil," Freeman said. "That's what guys that are chugging along are going to do. We're pretty good at home, so hopefully we can keep this going."

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Follow George Henry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP


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