With Chipper Jones back in the lineup and producing, the Atlanta Braves will look to mount a playoff push as they continue their four-game series with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday at RFK Stadium.
Jones returned from a stint on the disabled list on Sunday against Milwaukee and then broke out in a big way in Atlanta’s 10-4 victory over the Nationals in Monday’s series opener.
Jones homered in three straight plate appearances, the first three-homer game of his career, and finished with five RBIs as Atlanta (55-62) won for the second straight night.
Matt Diaz went 4-for-5 and tied an NL record by getting hits in 10 straight at-bats before grounding out in the ninth.
“You don’t see things happen like that every day: a three-homer game and a guy getting 10 hits in a row—much less them happening in the same game,” said Jones, the first Atlanta player with a trio of homers since 2002. “If you were in the ballpark tonight, you were certainly entertained and got your money’s worth.”
Jones went on the DL on July 30 with a strained left oblique muscle. The Braves went 5-8 without him in the lineup.
Atlanta has won 13 of its past 17 games in which Jones has made at least one plate appearance.
“I never, ever thought I would hit three home runs. I hit three home runs once when I was 12 in Little League, and I thought that was going to be the last time,” Jones said.
The Braves are 5 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the NL wild card standings as they try to make the playoffs for the 15th straight season. Washington (51-67) has lost three straight games and seven of its last nine.
Diaz went 2-for-2 on Saturday, was 4-for-4 against Milwaukee and extended his streak on Monday, breaking the Braves’ team record of nine straight hits held by Marcus Giles from July 27-29, 2003.
Cincinnati’s Bip Roberts was the last NL player to have 10 straight hits, from Sept. 19-23, 1992. The major league record is 12, last accomplished by Detroit’s Walt Dropo in 1952.
With their rotation ravaged by injuries, the Braves will recall Lance Cormier (2-3, 6.12 ERA) from Triple-A Richmond to start Tuesday.
Cormier made two starts—losing both—among his 21 appearances for Atlanta before being sent to the minors on July 4.
At Richmond, the right-hander went 4-3 with a 3.95 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two appearances this season against the Nationals and is 2-2 with a 12.79 ERA in five career games against Washington, including one start.
Pedro Astacio (2-2, 5.56) will try to reverse his bad fortune against Atlanta when he starts for the Nationals on Tuesday. The veteran right-hander is 4-16 with a 5.22 ERA in 24 career appearances against the Braves. He has lost three straight decisions against Atlanta and hasn’t beaten the Braves since April 16, 2002.
Astacio has allowed 23 runs in his last 19 1-3 innings against Atlanta.
Since returning from the 60-day DL on July 1, Astacio hasn’t allowed more than five runs in any of his eight starts, but hasn’t been able to pitch past the seventh inning in any outing.
Jones is batting .295 (13-for-44) with two homers and seven RBIs against Astacio. Diaz has never faced him.
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