Braves end losing streak

Braves end losing streak

September 14th, 2011 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla hits a three-run homer against the Florida Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

By Paul Newberry, The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Brian McCann and Dan Uggla each hit a three-run homer and the Atlanta Braves snapped their longest losing streak of the season, beating the Florida Marlins 7-1 Tuesday night to end a four-game skid.

The Braves, whose lead over St. Louis in the National League wild-card standings is down to 4 1/2 games, held a private meeting before the game in hopes of shaking things up.

It finally worked in the sixth. Uggla drew a one-out walk from Brad Hand (1-7), Matt Diaz singled to right field and McCann came through with a towering shot over the center-field wall for his 24th homer. Uggla put it out of reach in the seventh with his career-best 34th homer, also a three-run shot.

Peter Moylan (2-1) claimed the win by getting the final out in the sixth.

The Cardinals kept pace in the playoff race, beating Pittsburgh 6-4.

The Braves had gone 36 innings since their last lead, struggling especially to drive home runners from third base with less than two outs. McCann had failed in just such a situation Monday night, striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning.

Atlanta went on to lose 5-4 in 12, its seventh loss in nine games and enough to prompt manager Fredi Gonzalez to call a private meeting before batting practice. Chipper Jones described it as "basically a circling of the wagons," and whatever was said seemed to rouse the Braves from their worst stretch of the season.

McCann's homer took some of the pressure off, for both him and the team. He came into the game mired in a 5-for-28 slump (.179) and had gone nearly two weeks since his last homer.

In the seventh, Jones led off with a single to center, Freddie Freeman walked and Uggla teed off on a 1-2 pitch from Brian Sanches, driving it deep into the left-field seats to eclipse his previous career high -- 33 homers with the Marlins last season.

Michael Bourn added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Mike Minor started on the mound for the Braves and lasted 5 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits, including Emilio Bonifacio's run-scoring single in the fifth that broke a scoreless tie.

Donnie Murphy led off with a walk -- one of four issued by Minor -- and Matt Dominguez followed with a single to center that put runners at third and first. Hand sacrificed Dominguez to second, and Bonifacio came through with a liner to right.

Dominguez had to hold at third on Bonifacio's hit and remained stranded there when Omar Infante's flyout to left wasn't deep enough for the runner to tag. Minor got out of the jam on Greg Dobbs' liner to third.

The Braves announced before the game that assistant general manager Bruce Manno will now oversee the player development department as well. In addition, Ronnie Richardson was promoted to director of minor league operations and John Coppolella moved up to director of professional scouting.

Florida quietly released 38-year-old outfielder Mike Cameron after Monday's win over the Braves, deciding to go with younger players for the final two weeks of the season.