The Atlanta Braves are having the type of road trip that’s needed to win a division championship.
Atlanta’s baseball club improved to 4-1 on its nine-game trip with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
The win put the Braves back even with the young Washington Nationals, who lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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The Braves won with the bats in a three-game sweep and did it with pitching and some good old-fashioned Chipper Jones defense at third base on Tuesday.
The bullpen seemingly got off its Rocky Mountain low to hurl 4 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball at the storied corner of Clark and Addison, while Chipper continues to amaze in the season he turned 40.
Atlanta knew it wasn’t going to get many runs off Ryan Dempster, who led the majors with a 0.95 ERA coming into this one. But the Cubs usually didn’t score when Dempster was on the mound, and rookie hurler Randall Delgado was effective enough to keep the Braves in the game before Dan Uggla got to Kerry Wood.
Things are not going so well for Wood right now, who fired his glove and hat into the stands after this one.
The Braves, on the other hand? They showed they are in it to win it in the NL East.
The Braves are a major league-best 19-8 since starting the season with three straight losses. That has helped them put five games between themselves and the NL East-favorite Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East.
-CF Michael Bourn had a hit in Atlanta’s two-run eighth to extend his streak to 12 games on Tuesday. He is batting .352 (19-for-54) during that stretch.
-RHP Craig Kimbrel notched his second straight save after blowing his first of the year on May 1 against the Phillies. Kimbrel snapped a streak of three straight games of giving up a run by hurling a perfect ninth.
-RHP Randall Delgado made his first major league start against the Cubs on Thursday, scattering one run and three hits over 5 2/3 frames. He walked three and struck out five and threw 61 of his 101 pitches for strikes.
-LHP Eric O’Flaherty recorded the last out of the sixth. It was the first hitless appearance in the month of May for O’Flaherty, who has allowed four runs and six hits over four frames. O’Flaherty reached his 2011 total of runs allowed with eight in Monday’s 5-1 loss to the Cubs.
-Cubs RHP Ryan Dempster allowed just one run over seven frames, but was once again saddled with a no-decision due to the Cubs’ anemic offense. The winless Dempster, who is 2-12 with a 4.56 ERA lifetime against the Braves, has the major’s best ERA at 1.02 this year. However, his team is averaging just 1.6 runs per game when Dempster starts.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“There isn’t anything glaring or crazy. Anytime you (post a 0.98 ERA) and then all of a sudden you give up some runs, people are going to wonder, ‘What’s the matter with you?’ But I think he’s fine.” — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, to the team’s beatwriters in Chicago about RHP Eric O’Flaherty’s disappointing start to the 2012 season.