Braves reach historic 10,000-win mark
A return to the big leagues gave Martin Prado the lift he needed at the plate.
Prado had two hits, including a homer, in his return from five weeks on the disabled list and the Braves beat the error-prone Washington Nationals 11-1 Friday night for the 10,000th win in franchise history.
”I felt different tonight,” Prado said. ”A couple of games rehabbing, I didn’t feel pumped up. Being back tonight gave me that push.”
Prado, an All-Star in 2010, had been out since June 8 with a staph infection in his right calf.
He played left field, third base and designated hitter in his eight games rehabbing in the minors. He returned to Atlanta’s lineup as the fill-in at third base for Chipper Jones, who’s expected to miss at least two weeks following minor knee surgery.
Despite the modest results in the minors, Prado said before the game he was confident in his hitting. The confidence showed.
After hitting flyballs in his first two at-bats, he led off the fourth with his ninth homer and added a run-scoring single in the sixth.
”Rehabbing, I was taking pitches,” he said. ”I wasn’t worried about hitting the ball. I was trying to get my strike zone and have a plan. Tonight, I was trying to be more aggressive.”
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Prado is ”such a pro.”
”He made some good plays at third base also,” Gonzalez said.
The Braves’ milestone also included victories they compiled while playing in Boston and Milwaukee.
Tim Hudson (9-6) gave up one run on seven hits in seven innings and had two hits, including a double. He’s now won four straight decisions.
”It all started for me with Huddy on the mound,” Gonzalez said. ”I think he just got better as the game went on. He was trying to talk me into another inning.”
Freddie Freeman drove in three runs with two hits, including a two-run double in the seventh. The Braves had 13 hits.
”That’s a good way to start (after the All-Star break),” Prado said.
First baseman Michael Morse had only one error on the season before committing two — one fielding, one throwing — on leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer’s grounder in the first to set the pace for the Nationals’ fielding woes. Morse had three of the team’s five errors on the night.
Livan Hernandez (5-9) gave up six runs, three earned, on eight hits and a walk in four innings. He said he was hurt by ”a lot of bloopers.”
”The only hard ball they hit, Prado hit it out,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez was hurt by poor defense in Atlanta’s four-run first inning. Morse bobbled Schafer’s grounder and then made a wild throw, allowing Schafer to move to second.
After Jason Heyward walked, Freeman drove in Schafer with a single. Heyward scored on Dan Uggla’s double past third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Shortstop Ian Desmond bobbled a grounder by David Ross, allowing Freeman to score, before Nate McLouth added a run-scoring single.
Ross hit a ground-rule double and scored on Hudson’s two-out single in the third. Prado’s homer in the fourth pushed the lead to 6-1.
The Braves sent nine batters to the plate in the first and sixth innings. They scored three in the sixth, including RBI singles by Prado and Heyward. Ryan Zimmerman couldn’t handle Uggla’s grounder off Ross Detwiler for Washington’s fifth error, allowing Prado to score.
Braves right-hander Scott Linebrink struck out Wilson Ramos with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
NOTES: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said RHP Stephen Strasburg, recovering from elbow surgery, ”could get a major league start in September.” Strasburg had his surgery on Sept. 3, 2010. … The Braves signed LHP Sean Gilmartin, the team’s first-round pick from Florida State, for a bonus of $1,134,000. … The Braves optioned INF Brandon Hicks to Triple-A Gwinnett. … The Nationals also committed five errors on June 28 at the Angels. … The Braves trail only the Giants (10,489) and Cubs (10,277) in wins in the major leagues, according to information provided to the team by the Elias Sports Bureau. The Braves franchise began in Boston in 1876.