Streaking Braves finding different ways to win

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm •  Published: July 3, 2014
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Braves, finding new ways to create runs, have regained the lead in the NL East with their best two-week stretch of the season.

It's even more impressive when considering during that period starting pitcher Gavin Floyd had season-ending elbow surgery and power-hitting catcher Evan Gattis was lost indefinitely with a back injury.

The Braves were off on Thursday, but will carry a seven-game winning streak into Friday night's game against Arizona. Atlanta has won 11 of its last 14 games to move one-half game ahead of Washington.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he has seen the Braves play as well in a series, but not over a stretch as long as two weeks. He is encouraged that his lineup is proving it doesn't have to rely on homers.

"There's been a lot of different components for us to be winning, whether it's the bullpen one day or starting pitchers going deep in games, whether it's situational hitting or baserunning," Gonzalez said Wednesday. "We're winning in different ways, I guess is a better way to describe it. We're not relying on the home run."

The Braves hit no homers but instead relied on clutch hitting, scoring all eight runs with two outs, in the last two games of a sweep of the Mets this week.

"We're always going to hit home runs, but it's nice for us to show we can win games other ways," said third baseman Chris Johnson, who hit a three-run double with two outs in Atlanta's 3-1 win over New York on Wednesday night. "We don't have to hit a two- or three-run home run."

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the winning streak immediately followed B.J. Upton's move to the leadoff spot. Upton has a nine-game hitting streak — all from his new home in the lineup. Despite the streak, he's hitting only .210 but leads the team with 13 stolen bases.

Former leadoff hitter Jason Heyward's move to the middle of the lineup is especially important following the loss of Gattis. Heyward's power was a bonus as the leadoff hitter, but now it provides support for Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton in the middle of the lineup.

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