One more game and one more great showing for the Braves, who are still holding onto their playoff hopes. Chuck James came out and gave one of his better pitching performances of the year to improve to move into double-digit wins and even out his record for the 2007 season. The soft-tossing southpaw had an uncharacteristic game with more ground-outs than fly ball outs, a good thing for a pitcher who has been known to give up the long ball. Through six innings, James had shut out the Nationals, allowing only four hits -- two of them bunt singles-- and one walk, while striking out four batters. The seventh rolled around and he just hit a wall. In 0.1 of an inning in the seventh, James allowed two runs on four hits, including a double and a home run before being pulled. Peter Moylan came in with runners on first and third, and one out and did what he has been doing all year. The Aussie side-armer struck out the first batter he faced and induced a ground-ball out from the next batter to end the inning. Manny Acosta and Tyler Yates came in to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth with three strikeouts combined. Yates, who suffered through that miserable July, has been much better since, including a 2.43 ERA in his last thirteen appearances (12.1 innings) with fourteen strikeouts and only three walks.
The offense was equally as good as the performance the Braves pitchers gave tonight. The team hit and made the most of opportunities from the sloppy play of the Nationals. Of the nine runs Atlanta scored, only three were earned runs due to three more Nationals errors. That included yet another throwing error from Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Escobar and Renteria at the top were the spark for this team. The double-play combo combined to go 4/8 with four runs and an RBI. Escobar added the last of the Braves' runs on a no-doubter solo shot in the eighth. Jeff Francoeur was the one player who really did the most damage tonight though. With those the top two and Teixeira in front of him all reaching base at least two times, the Braves right-fielder made the most of his opportunities to drive in runs. Francoeur got the first RBI of the game on a bases loaded walk, one of his two walks on the night, and then blew the game open with a three-run opposite field homerun off the top of the wall (and Austin Kearns' glove) in right field.
Lance Cormier, who is coming off four straight impressive outings will try and continue his success against Jason Bergman and the Nationals. Bergman, has given Atlanta some trouble this year but hopefully the Braves can continue their uphill climb to the post season and complete the sweep. The game will begin at 1:05 ET on TBS.