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braves-4-phillies-2-atlanta-alone-in-first-2 | July | 2004 Articles

2004 Archives

Braves 4 Phillies 2 — Atlanta Alone in First!

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For the first time all season, the Braves have taken sole possession of first place -- and not a moment too soon, as I will be at tomorrow night's game in Atlanta! This is a last-minute development, and it actually interferes with my schedule, since I now have to wake up two hours before I go to work just to vote in Georgia's primary election. Oh, that reminds me -- GET OUT AND VOTE! Because I was celebrating my birthday with friends who don't have cable, and the antenna doesn't receive Turner South, I unfortunately was unable to view the game in real time. However, I caught the ESPN highlights, and wow -- that was impressive! The game was marked great pitching performances from Mike Hampton and John Smoltz (two-inning save) and an even greater defensive performance by Charles Thomas, Andruw Jones (diving catch to end the eighth), and Rafael Furcal (leaping catch to end the game), and a very suspenseful ninth inning that almost cost the Braves the lead. Bobby Abreu led off the ninth with a single, then Jim Thome struck out. Pat Burrell then hit a double-play ball to shortstop, but Marcus Giles threw the ball away, allowing Burrell to first base. Ricky Ledee then struck out, but he reached first on a passed ball that allowed Burrell to move over to third. Then David Bell ripped the ball into left field, but Furcal's amazing leaping catch kept it from hitting the ground, ending the game before the Phillies got a chance to tie the game. As Mac said over at Braves Journal, bad things usually happen when you allow a first-place team five outs in an inning, but Smoltz managed to pitch through it and the Braves emerged victorious, taking first place for the first time all year. It looks like the Braves have finally put all their pieces together. Even without Horacio Ramirez, the four Braves starters are getting the job done well of late, and the bats have finally come around. As a team (including pitchers!) the Braves are batting about .300 with an OPS over .900 for the month of July, and the pitching staff's ERA is a good bit below 3.00. The Braves have outscored opponents 99 to 43 this month. To put it simply, they have found the consistency they need to win. Now if only they can hold on to it, the Braves can run away with the NL East.

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