Braves-Pirates: Atlanta Ends Five-Game Skid with 11-1 Victory

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IApril 20, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 08:  Jeff Francoeur #7 of the Atlanta Braves runs the bases against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on April 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Jeff Francoeur kept hitting, and finally the rest of the Braves did too.

After starting the season 5-1, the Braves went into Sunday's game against the Pirates having dropped five in a row to fall to 5-6.

I wondered if that losing streak would ever end.  Thankfully, it did with a bang.

In 2008, it was a rare time when Francoeur was virtually the only player on the Braves consistently getting on base.  Now, with an improved stance, "Frenchy" is hitting .333 and has 10 RBI in only 11 regular-season games.

Francoeur has hit a whopping .444 with six RBI in the last seven games alone.

I know that Braves fans are extremely excited to see Frenchy appearing to bounce back from such a dismal 2008 campaign.

One thing I'd like to display in the Braves favor from Sunday's game is the depth of their bench players.

Omar Infante, Martin Prado, and David Ross all started on Sunday despite not being regular starters.  They combined to go 5-for-14 (.357), with six RBI, four runs, and both Prado and Ross hit homers.

Jordan Schafer also made a big comeback, going 3-for-5 on Sunday.  He had a very hot start, hitting two homers in his first week in the bigs, but before Sunday he had a period where he was only 1-for-26.

It is rumored that Schafer might have injured himself at some point during the Braves' opening series against the Phillies.  This could have contributed to his bad streak of at-bats.  Hopefully, Sunday signals that his wrist is mending.

Javier Vazquez had a huge outing on Sunday, pitching six scoreless innings and striking out eight.  It is good to see Vazquez get into regular-season form, as his performance is very important to the Braves' 2009 chances.

The Braves will begin a three-game series against the Washington Nationals tonight at 7:05 ET. Derek Lowe (1-0) is set to start against rookie Jordan Zimmerman.

Hopefully, Zimmerman's inexperience will come out as the Braves look to light up the Nationals in our nation's capital tonight.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.