On Friday, the Braves beat the Cardinals 7-2—their third straight win and sixth in eight games.
Russ Ortiz earned his NL-leading 16th win for the Braves, who have won eight in a row over the Cardinals, including a three-game sweep at Turner Field in April.
The Braves’ 75-39 record matches the best start in team history, set by the 1998 team and matched again last season.
“You get a pitch to hit, you want to drive it,” Sheffield said. “We took pretty good swings and the ball wound up going over the fence.”
The Braves lead the league with 659 runs scored and a .284 team batting average, while the Cardinals rank second with 636 runs and a .283 average.
One day after getting his 100th run and 100th RBI of the season, Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols doubled in the sixth inning to extend his hitting streak to 22 games Friday.
The All-Star outfielder in hitting .395 (34-for-86) during the streak, raising his major league-best batting average to .371.
Edgar Renteria also doubled for the Cardinals, who have lost four of their last five to remain two games behind first-place Houston in the NL Central.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Cardinals - 3rd place, 2 GB, NL Central.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Shane Reynolds (9-5, 5.61 ERA). Reynolds gave up four earned runs and six hits in seven innings of a 7-4 victory over Houston on July 31 for his fourth win in five decisions. In 24 career appearances, including 19 starts, against the Cardinals, he is 8-6 with a 4.71 ERA.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Garrett Stephenson (5-11, 4.56 ERA). On Sunday, Stephenson gave up four earned runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 13-5 loss to the New York Mets—his sixth setback in seven decisions. He is 4-5 with a 3.36 ERA in 10 career starts against the Braves.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .328 avg. and 89 RBIs; Lopez, 31 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 94 runs and 18 SBs. Cardinals - Pujols, .371 avg., 30 HRs, 100 RBIs and 100 runs; Edgar Renteria, 25 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Braves, 4-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - With 48 games remaining, the Braves have hit 10 more homers than they had in all of 2002. … LF Chipper Jones, who went 1-for-12 in the Braves’ last series against the Brewers, took Friday off so he could work on his swing in Busch Stadium’s indoor batting cages. SS Rafael Furcal also rested Friday. … The Braves are 24-8 in their last 32 games and are a season-best 37 games above .500. Cardinals - OF-PH Orlando Palmeiro improved 12-for-34 (.353) as a pinch hitter after singling in the seventh inning Friday. … OF Pujols’ streak is the Cardinals’ longest since Joe McEwing hit in 25 straight games in 1999. … The Cardinals have been held to just eight runs combined in the first four games of their six-game homestand.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 36-22 on the road; Cardinals - 32-25 at home.
INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Trey Hodges (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL. Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Morris (hand), 15-day DL; LHP Lance Painter (calf), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (foot), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL.