ATLANTA - Some 555 miles away, the St. Louis Cardinals had beaten the Chicago Cubs to make sure the Atlanta Braves would be denied their immediate wish - home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.
But after watching his team crush Philadelphia 12-5 at Turner Field on Sunday afternoon, Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez wasn't about to put a negative spin on a 96-66 regular season. Especially with the Los Angeles Dodgers pulling into town on Thursday for the opening game of the best-of-five division series between the two at Turner Field.
"Thirty games over .500, the East Division title, home field advantage for the first round," said Gonzalez, reeling off the achievements. "That's a (heckuva) season for this ball club. Now the fun begins, it really does."
No Brave has had more fun of late than 27-year-old rookie Evan Gattis, who clubbed his 21st homer of the season, a two-run blast that gave him a major league-leading 65 RBI for rookies. Though the Phillies briefly pulled within 5-4 in the fourth, they never tied or led as Atlanta pounded out 17 hits to make a winner of Julio Teheran (14-8).
"I'm happy with my year," said Gattis, who's batting a torrid .417 in his last six games (10 of 24) with two doubles, one home run and six RBI. "But I also know I can do better."