Atlanta has won 10 of its last 12 games, including a 3-2 victory over Milwaukee on Saturday.
Giles’ solo homer in the seventh inning put the Braves ahead for good, and John Smoltz got three outs in the ninth for his ninth save in as many chances and 25th in a row dating to last year.
Listed at 5-foot-8 in the Braves media guide—but admittedly closer to 5-7—Giles hardly has the look of a power hitter. But he’s already hit four homers this season.
More importantly, he’s hitting .347 and seems to have a hold on the everyday job at second base.
“Who’d ever think a guy that size would go deep?” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “And the other way, too. He just keeps playing great baseball. He has done everything.”
That’s especially true against left-handed pitchers, like Sunday’s starter Glendon Rusch. Giles is 9-for-16 (.563) against southpaws this season.
“My approach is supposed to stay the same, but unfortunately it doesn’t,” Giles said. “I wish I could have a more consistent approach against righties. But that’s the way it goes.”
Milwaukee slugger Richie Sexson, who hit three homers in Friday’s 12-5 victory, went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts Saturday.
“That’s how baseball is,” Sexson said. “One day, it’s good, and the next day it’s bad. You have to learn that. That’s the way it goes.”
STANDINGS: Brewers - 5th place (tied), 5 GB, NL Central. Braves - 2nd place (tied), 1 GB, NL East.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Rusch (1-3, 7.39 ERA). The veteran left-hander is winless in his last three starts, including Milwaukee’s 5-4 loss at Florida on April 23. Rusch did not receive a decision, allowing three runs and 10 hits over seven innings, striking out five without issuing a walk. Rusch has never beaten the Braves in his career, going 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA in seven starts.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Russ Ortiz (2-2, 4.40 ERA). The right-hander is coming off a solid effort in his last start, a 5-3 win over the Cardinals on April 22. Ortiz allowed two runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings, striking out seven and walking one. It marked just the second time in five starts that Ortiz had allowed two runs or fewer, the other coming in a 3-0 win over Florida on April 7. Ortiz is 3-2 with a 5.55 career ERA against the Brewers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Brady Clark, .364 avg; Sexson, 8 HRs and 18 runs; Geoff Jenkins, 16 RBIs; Alex Sanchez and Eric Young, 3 SBs. Braves - Julio Franco, .368 avg; Gary Sheffield, 6 HRs and 22 runs; Andruw Jones, 21 RBIs; Rafael Furcal, 5 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - OF Jenkins is hitting just .154 (2-for-13) in his career against RHP Ortiz. … NL batters are hitting .484 with runners in scoring position against LHP Rusch this season. … 1B Sexson is hitting .417 (5-for-12) with a homer and two RBIs in his career against RHP Ortiz. Braves - OF Chipper Jones is hitting .562 (9-for-16) with a homer and three RBIs in his career against LHP Rusch. … Since he broke into the league in 1998, right-handed hitters are batting .197 against RHP Ortiz. … SS Furcal is hitting .167 (3-for-18) in his career against LHP Rusch.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 5-9 on the road; Braves - 9-6 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - OF Jeffrey Hammonds (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Jayson Durocher (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL. Braves - IF Robert Fick (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL.