NL East Wrap: Braves crush Nats for milestone win

NL East Wrap: Braves crush Nats for milestone win
July 16, 2011, 3:12 am
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Braves 11, Nationals 1


ATLANTA -- A return to the big leagues gave Martin Prado the lift that he needed at the plate.

Prado had two hits, including a homer, in his return from five weeks on the disabled list and the Braves beat the error-prone Washington Nationals 11-1 Friday night for the 10,000th win in franchise history.

"I felt different tonight," Prado said. "A couple of games rehabbing, I didn't feel pumped up. Being back tonight gave me that push."

Prado, an All-Star in 2010, had been out since June 8 with a staph infection in his right calf.

He played left field, third base and designated hitter in his eight games rehabbing in the minors. He returned to Atlanta's lineup as the fill-in at third base for Chipper Jones, who is expected to miss at least two weeks following minor knee surgery.

Despite the modest results in the minors, Prado said before the game he was confident in his hitting. The confidence showed.

After hitting flyballs in his first two at-bats, Prado led off the fourth with his ninth homer and added a run-scoring single in the sixth.

"Rehabbing, I was taking pitches," he said. "I wasn't worried about hitting the ball. I was trying to get my strike zone and have a plan. Tonight I was trying to be more aggressive."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Prado is "such a pro."

"He made some good plays at third base, also," Gonzalez said.

The Braves' milestone also included victories they compiled while playing in Boston and Milwaukee.

Tim Hudson (9-6) gave up one run on seven hits in seven innings and had two hits, including a double. He has won four straight decisions.

"It all started for me with Huddy on the mound," Gonzalez said. "I think he just got better as the game went on. He was trying to talk me into another inning."

Freddie Freeman drove in three runs with two hits, including a two-run double in the seventh. The Braves had 13 hits.

"That's a good way to start (after the All-Star break)," Prado said.

First baseman Michael Morse had only one error for the season before committing two -- one fielding, one throwing -- on leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer's grounder in the first to set the pace for the Nationals' fielding woes. Morse had three of the team's five errors.

Livan Hernandez (5-9) gave up six runs, three earned, on eight hits and a walk in four innings. He said he was hurt by "a lot of bloopers."

"The only hard ball they hit, Prado hit it out," Hernandez said.

Cubs 2, Marlins 1


CHICAGO -- Carlos Marmol was back on the mound trying to close this one out, and once again, he came up short. The Cubs did not.

Ryan Dempster pitched four-hit ball over eight scoreless innings, and Chicago overcame another shaky performance by its closer to beat Florida 2-1 Friday, snapping the Marlins' season-high, six-game winning streak.

Dempster (7-6) struck out nine without a walk in probably his best outing of the season as the Cubs won for the third time in nine games, but the focus again centered on Marmol.

"We need him," manager Mike Quade said. "When you talk about the bullpen, he's a pretty big part."

Right now, that part isn't working.

After the closer's ninth-inning meltdown Thursday, Quade had said he wasn't sure he would use Marmol in a save situation, but he did after talking to the pitcher, coaches and management before Friday's game.

That backfired when they turned to Marmol in the ninth Friday and he again didn't make it out of the inning. Sean Marshall got out of the jam and will close for the next few days.

Marmol came in to boos on the heels of a miserable performance in which he walked four of the five batters he faced and failed to record an out. The Marlins scored six in the ninth to win that one 6-3 and they nearly pulled off another comeback Friday.

Marmol's latest troubles began when he walked Omar Infante on four pitches to start the inning.

He caught a break with one out when center fielder Marlon Byrd threw out Hanley Ramirez trying to stretch a single into a double.

"The guy made a helluva throw," Marlins interim manager Jack McKeon said.

Quade would have lifted Marmol then had Ramirez not been thrown out. Instead, he watched as Logan Morrison lined an RBI single to right, cutting Florida's deficit to 2-1.

Marshall relieved Marmol and struck out Mike Stanton to end the game, giving him two saves in four chances.

"We're trying to figure out things," Marmol said. "Hopefully, when I get back, I'll be the old Marmol."

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