Washington (54-87) at Atlanta (61-80)

Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 7:35 pm EDT Fri Sep 5, 2008
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The Atlanta Braves may not be in contention for a playoff spot, but Chipper Jones is again competing for the NL batting title.

Jones will try to get closer to becoming the first Braves player in 17 years to accomplish that feat Friday night when Atlanta continues its four-game series against the last-place Washington Nationals.

Jones is second in the majors with a .359 batting average, only one percentage point behind St. Louis’ Albert Pujols. The six-time All-Star third baseman, who also has 20 homers and 67 RBIs, was the runner-up in the NL batting race a year ago, hitting a career-high .337 to finish just behind Matt Holliday (.340) of Colorado.

The Braves (61-80) haven’t had a batting champion since Terry Pendleton in 1991.

On Tuesday, Jones returned from a knee injury that had sidelined him for two games, and went 1-for-1 with three walks in Atlanta’s 2-0 victory over Washington (54-87) in the series opener.

“I don’t have any fluid in my joints,” Jones told the Braves’ official Web site. “The pain has subsided pretty quickly. … I didn’t do much (Wednesday). I wanted to give it a few days to cool off.”

Jones is batting .375 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs in his last 30 games against the Nationals.

Despite Jones’ efforts and Thursday’s victory, Atlanta has dropped 18 of its last 24 games and will miss the postseason for a third consecutive year after winning 11 straight division titles.

The Braves will give the ball to Jair Jurrjens (11-9, 3.59 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in his last four starts.

The right-hander was solid against the Nationals on Sunday, allowing three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings while not factoring in the decision of an 8-4 loss. He’s 0-1 with a 4.19 ERA in three starts against Washington.

Washington, which lost for only the second time in 10 games Thursday, hopes Jason Bergmann (2-10, 4.83 ERA) can win for the first time in five starts.

The right-hander is 0-2 with an 8.55 ERA over his last four outings. The dismal stretch continued Saturday, when he allowed six runs and eight hits, including two homers, in 4 1-3 innings of a 9-8, 10-inning win over Atlanta.

“I didn’t have good command. … (Saturday) was not a fun day for me,” Bergmann told the Nationals’ official Web site.

Bergmann, though, is 2-1 with a 2.19 ERA in eight games - three starts - at Turner Field.

The Nationals might be without infielder Ronnie Belliard for the rest of the season after he strained his groin running out an infield hit Thursday. Belliard went 3-for-3 in the loss, but there is no timetable for his return and manager Manny Acta expressed serious concern.

“He may be down for the year,” Acta said. “We’ll have an MRI (Friday).”

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Starting Pitchers

J. Bergmann KC vs. J. Jurrjens Col
2-11 Record 13-10
5.09 ERA 3.68
96 K 139
47 BB 70
1.43 WHIP 1.37


Friday, Sep 5