After struggling most of the first half of the season, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann has finally rediscovered his stroke. He homered in his fourth straight game to lift the Bravos to a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in a 4-3 game to head into the All-Star break.
McCann's go-ahead shot was a moonshot off Raul Valdes that banked off the batter's eye in deep center field at Citizens Bank Park in the top of the seventh inning. It was the fourth consecutive game in which McCann has homered, his fifth in as many games against the Phillies and the first time the Braves have swept the Phillies on the road since 2007.
The shot by McCann helped secure the third win of the year for Jair Jurrjens, who gave up three runs – all driven in by Jason Pridie – over seven innings. The three runs Jurrjens gave up were the most he has given up since returning from a stint in Triple-A, a testament to how strongly he has bounced back and following Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson's starts earlier in the series.
Dan Uggla also went yard for his 12th homer and first since June 9. The two-run shot came off Phillies starter Vance Worley after a Freddie Freeman double. The homer also snapped an 0-for-20 skid for Uggla.
“Oh man. I feel like I hadn’t had a good swing on a ball since Miami," Uggla said. "To actually connect and get one over the fence, it was a nice little weight off the shoulders. It’s been a while.”
The win was costly for Atlanta, however. Andrelton Simmons fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand when hustling out a double on a lackadaisical through by Pridie when he slid headfirst into second. He may be out up to 4-6 weeks. Manager Fredi Gonzalez had nothing but praise for the rookie's hustle.
"What a heads up play the young man made," Gonzalez said. "He ran the bases right from the very beginning, something that you preach. Don’t think about going two halfway down first base. You make the outfielder stop you right from the very beginning, and he did that. He can slide 2,000 times and that stuff never happens to him. So it’s a freak play. It’s a cruel game at times and hopefully tomorrow the re-evaluation is a good one and we can minimize the damage with him.”
The win, coupled with losses by the Washington Nationals and New York Mets, propelled the Braves into second place and four games behind the Nationals headed into the All-Star break.
"[The sweep] gives us a positive mindset to go in the break," Jurrjens said. "Go rest for a little bit and prepare ourselves for the second half and keep playing good baseball."
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