Atlanta Braves Beat Dodgers for Ninth Straight, Extend Lead to 3 Games

Alan ParrishContributor IJune 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 3: Pitcher Takashi Saito #40 of the Atlanta Braves gets a pat on the arm from first baseman Troy Glaus as he leaves the game with an injury in the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 3, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. The Braves won 4-3.   (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On May 18th, when the Atlanta Braves were cellar-dwellers and 6 1/2 games out of first in the NL East, Braves faithful began grumbling about another season wasted. Not anymore. After posting 14 wins in 16 games, including a three game sweep of the defending NL Champion Phillies, the Braves now stand atop the NL East by three games.

The Braves offense, which looked excellent at season's start, was anemic out of the gate. People in the organization were scratching their heads and wondering how so much could go wrong with seemingly a solid offense. Troy Glaus struggled, leading many to cry out for his release. Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera, and others struggled as well, with Martin Prado and Jason Heyward essentially carrying this club. Then the bats woke up. Sixteen games later, the Braves passed a major test with the Dodgers.

Kris Medlen provided 7.1 innings of solid pitching, striking out three and walking none; he only gave up three earned runs, with Peter Moylan on the mound to allow those to come across. Eric O'Flaherty relieved Moylan, walking Matt Kemp before striking out James Loney to end the 8th. Takashi Saito came on to close, getting two outs before Johnny Venters threw one pitch to strike out Andre Ethier and earn his second big league save. Troy Glaus provided most of the production offensively, hitting a two run homer in the 4th to accompany his single in the first. Kris Medlen also provided some offense, hitting a run-producing double over the head of Manny Ramirez in the eighth.

May marked the beginning of the Braves' production increase. Nate McLouth began coming through in the clutch. Contributions from Prado, Omar Infante, and the ever dangerous Jason Heyward have been a tremendous help. However, Troy Glaus' resurgence has helped put this ballclub back in the hunt for a division title. While it is still early, the Braves are hopeful that they can keep fighting, keep winning, and stay atop the division. Troy Glaus has been a major addition, adding 5 homers and 17 RBI in the last 16 games to help lead this club out of the cellar and into the penthouse suite.

Jason Heyward has also been a definitely pleasant surprise. The 20-year-old rookie has shown great poise and reliability, a rare find in a guy so young. His .282 average, combined with his 10 homers and 38 RBIs have been a huge boost to a team lacking in the power department. Troy Glaus has come through on what the team expected of him, and Martin Prado and Omar Infante have been superb. Billy Wagner was another question mark, but has proven that he is worth his weight in gold. He got the night off tonight after working the last four games, picking up a save in each. Wagner is once again consistent, and the old saying I once held for Atlanta is coming to fruition again: one man's trash is another man's treasure. Everyone had written Wagner and Glaus off, saying that they were past their primes and couldn't/wouldn't contribute to a team. All they needed was a chance, and the Braves, looking to get some bang for the buck, swooped in and picked up two major contributors to this team.

Of course, this winning streak will most likely come to an end at some point. For now, though, the Braves seem to have a momentum and a spark unseen to this point. David Ross said it best when he said,"These are the times you don’t want off days. And we don’t have any." The Braves are on the best streak they've had since the 15 game winning streak in 2000. While there may still be problems in Hotlanta, while we hope Chipper got AFLAC for while he's hurt and misses work, and while Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera, Yunel Escobar, and Brian McCann try to figure it out, there is one thing to say about this run: it sure is great to see "Atlanta" listed first in the NL East standings again.