Youngest Braves carrying load well
Posted: Friday, July 8, 2011 9:06 pm
By: By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — The Braves’ youngest stars are some of the biggest reasons the team is putting pressure on Philadelphia in the NL East.
Rookie Craig Kimbrel, only 23, took the major league lead with his 27th save and two 21-year-old sluggers, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward, hit home runs as Atlanta beat Colorado 6-3 Thursday to complete its first four-game sweep of the Rockies in 18 years.
Freeman hit four homers and drove in seven runs in the series. His third-inning homer was the highlight of a five-run inning that knocked Juan Nicasio (3-2) out of the game. Nicasio gave up six straight hits in the inning.
“Pitching has kept us in it all year long,” Freeman said. “Finally we gave the pitchers some breathing room in this series.”
Freeman, the rookie first baseman, is hitting .279 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs. One of his biggest rivals in the race for NL Rookie of the Year is Kimbrel, who passed Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon for the most saves by a rookie before the All-Star break since 1969. Papelbon had 26 saves before the break in 2006.
The Braves have won nine of 10 and 14 of 17 as they head into a series with NL East-leading Philadelphia.
“It’s going to be a good series, no question about that,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez. “It’s going to be fun.”
Colorado has lost five straight and left Atlanta with more injury woes.
D’backs 4, Cardinals 1
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kyle McClellan butted heads with Mother Nature on Thursday night and the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander came out on the losing end.
McClellan threw five strong innings but struggled after a 50-minute rain delay in the Diamondbacks’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Arizona managed just one run and three hits over the first five innings. But McClellan surrendered a two-run homer to Justin Upton on his sixth pitch after the weather stoppage and the homer put Arizona in front 3-0.
“I was cruising along there for a while,” McClellan said. “The rain delay — it just came at a bad time.”
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa felt McClellan handled the delay as well as possible. He had no regrets about sending him back out there.
“I think he did a good job of staying warm,” La Russa said. “He looked pretty much the same.”
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was surprised McClellan returned to the game.
“He probably wasn’t as sharp as he was earlier in the game,” Gibson said.
Arizona lefty Joe Saunders threw five scoreless innings to give the Diamondbacks their fourth win in the last six games. They remain two games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.