The Atlanta Braves bounced back nicely after a frustrating three-game sweep.
They’ll look to build on their momentum Friday night when they continue a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field.
The Braves (51-45) managed just 12 runs while getting swept in three games by the lowly Cincinnati Reds to start the week, but nearly matched that output in Thursday’s 10-1 series-opening win. They remained 2 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.
Atlanta, which opened the second half with a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh, has three winning streaks of at least three games and three losing streaks of at least three games since June 18. However, the Braves, who are in the final series of a 10-game homestand, have managed to win 13 of their last 20 games.
“We were that team we like to see tonight,” said third baseman Chipper Jones, who went 2-for-3 with three runs. “A lot of good offense early and solid pitching early, good D. It just needs to show up a little more consistently. We couldn’t do any wrong, especially with guys on base.”
Andruw Jones went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs and continued to shake the slump that dogged him for most of the first half. Jones is batting 15-for-39 (.385) with five homers over his last six games, but his season average still stands at a sub-par .220.
“I’m trying to put the first half behind me,” he said. “We had a couple of rough starts the last three games. We made too many mistakes as a team and we got swept by the Cincinnati Reds. Today was a tremendous game all around for everybody.”
Julio Franco, who was signed off waivers on Wednesday after being released by the Mets, was activated Thursday. The 48-year-old first baseman, who also played for the Braves from 2001-05, started, received a standing ovation in his first at-bat and singled in a pair of runs.
The Cardinals (43-49), meanwhile, lost for the fourth time in seven games. St. Louis, which is opening the second half of the season on a 10-game road trip, has allowed 37 runs in those four defeats.
The Cardinals activated center fielder Jim Edmonds from the disabled list, where he was nursing a pinched nerve in his lower back, and he went 1-for-3.
St. Louis also learned that ace Chris Carpenter, who hasn’t pitched since a season-opening loss to the Mets, will undergo elbow ligament replacement surgery and will be out the rest of this year and part of 2008.
On Friday, Adam Wainwright (8-7, 4.36 ERA) will make his first career start against the Braves, who took him in the first round of the 2000 draft. Before he reached the majors, he was traded to St. Louis as part of a Dec. 2003 deal that sent J.D. Drew to Atlanta.
The right-hander, who grew up in Georgia as a Braves fan, did make three relief appearances against Atlanta last season, throwing four total scoreless innings without getting a decision.
Wainwright is trying to win for the third straight start and fourth time in five decisions. He threw seven scoreless innings in Sunday’s 10-2 win at Philadelphia.
Atlanta will counter with Chuck James (8-7, 3.73), who is 2-0 over his last three starts, allowing just two runs in 17 2-3 innings over that span. He threw six scoreless innings on Saturday, but was denied a decision when the Braves blew his 4-0 lead before rebounding for a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh.
“The good thing is we came out and won,” James said. “That’s the most important thing. It’s gonna happen. There’s gonna be days I’m gonna give up five runs. That’s just the way baseball is.”
James made his only previous start against the Cardinals on July 5 last season, winning by allowing four runs in six innings of a 14-4 home victory.