NL East Wrap: Braves stay hot; Yankees top Mets

NL East Wrap: Braves stay hot; Yankees top Mets
July 2, 2011, 3:38 am
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Friday, July 1, 2011
Posted: 11:40 p.m. Updated: July 2, 12:30 a.m.

The Associated Press

Braves 4, Orioles 0


ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens' first career shutout served as a well-timed advertisement for his candidacy to be the NL All-Star starting pitcher.

Jurrjens threw a one-hitter in his strongest start of a breakout season, Jason Heyward ended a long home-run drought and the streaking Atlanta Braves beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-0 on Friday night.

Jurrjens (11-3) became the first NL pitcher with 11 wins and lowered the NL's best ERA to 1.89 in a performance that will almost certainly get the attention of San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy as he decides on an All-Star starter.

"That was a pretty good performance that maybe will get some people's attention," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, adding Jurrjens deserves to "at least be on the team."

Adam Jones ended Jurrjens' no-hit bid with his single up the middle with one out in the seventh. Jones stole second but was stranded there as Jurrjens struck out Matt Wieters and Derrek Lee.

"A bouncer," Jurrjens said of Jones' hit, shaking his head. "I would prefer to give up a line drive off the wall."

Jurrjens recorded 15 straight outs before Mark Reynolds walked to lead off the sixth.

Jeremy Guthrie (3-10) threw five scoreless innings, allowing only a walk and a hit, before giving up Heyward's first homer since April 29, a two-run shot in the sixth.

Jurrjens threw 101 pitches through eight innings but was allowed to pitch the ninth with closer Craig Kimbrel standing on the bullpen mound. Jurrjens pitched a perfect ninth for his second complete game of the season.

"When you have a chance to go out and finish your own game, it's a good feeling," Jurrjens said.

Jurrjens struck out eight and walked one batter. He earned his 11th win in his 15th start. The last Atlanta pitcher to reach 11 wins in 15 starts was Tom Glavine in 2002.

"Outstanding," Gonzalez said. "It was one of his best performances of the season so far. He's been the most consistent pitcher we've had, and today was no different."

Yankees 5, Mets 1


NEW YORK -- Eduardo Nunez did quite an impression of Derek Jeter.

Filling in for the injured star shortstop, Nunez got the big hits, made a clutch throw -- and navigated his first postgame session in the interview room.

Nunez had an RBI single among his career-high four hits and threw out Jose Reyes at third base on a favorable call for the New Yankees in a 5-1 victory over the crosstown rival Mets on Friday night.

"I know he's coming back," Nunez said of Jeter, who could return from the disabled list Monday. "Play hard, and one time my moment is coming for playing every day. These two weeks is a big opportunity for me to show my manager, myself that I could play every day."

And he's come through. Nunez has played in all 16 games Jeter has been out with a calf strain. He is hitting .309 (17 for 55) with six RBIs in that period and the Yankees are 13-3.

"He's done a good job of just trying to be himself," manager Joe Girardi said. "I've been very pleased with the way he's played in Derek's absence."

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double, and Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano added RBI doubles. Ivan Nova (8-4) and six relievers stifled a Mets' offense that scored 54 runs in their last five games, helping the Yankees win their season-high sixth straight game.

Jonathon Niese (7-7) was pitching for the first time since leaving his start June 25 with a rapid heartbeat. After giving up three runs in the first, he shut down the Yankees through six innings of one of the most anticipated Subway Series matchups in the past several years.

Girardi emphasized that to stop the Mets it was essential to keep speedy leadoff batter Reyes in check. Reyes, who A-Rod called pregame "the world's greatest player," did have his 42nd multihit game of the season but was tagged out in the seventh trying to advance to third on a flyout to center with one out and the score 3-1.

"If he's safe the momentum goes back in their favor," Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson said.
Nationals 2, Pirates 1


WASHINGTON -- The outcome was similar. The approach was different. The record is .500 once again. After a 2-1 ninth-inning victory in his Washington Nationals home managerial debut, Davey Johnson had only one thing left to do to make it a truly successful evening.

He had to find his way home.

"That'll be a celebration," he said after Friday's victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I think I go down K Street. How do I get to K Street?"

Negotiating the tricky one-way roads of the nation's capital might be a challenge, but Johnson needs no GPS when it comes to managing. Yes, in a way they were the same old woeful-hitting, decent-pitching Nationals, who now have played an incredible 11 games since June 1 in which is the final score has been 2-1, 2-0 or 1-0.

But a closer look at the box score shows some subtle differences under Johnson, who is 1-3 as interim manager since accepting the job following Jim Riggleman's abrupt resignation last week.

For one thing, he let Tom Gorzelanny pitch seven innings on a humid night. The left-hander, who had lost four straight starts, rewarded his manager's trust with by finishing strong, striking out the last two batters he faced.

"I told all the other starters they're going to be on a longer leash with me," Johnson said. "I'm expecting more out of them. I know all your guys were up there second-guessing me. ... I go the extra yard for them. I want them to know that. I want to give him an opportunity to win."

Instead, Gorzelanny became the latest Nationals starter to have a solid outing fail to make a positive dent in the won-loss record. He finished with eight strikeouts, yielding an unearned run and six hits. He became the second straight Washington starter to not allow an unearned run without getting the win -- Jordan Zimmermann took a 1-0 loss on Wednesday.

Johnson's other leap of faith was using Matt Stairs as a pinch hitter with the game tied in the ninth. The 43-year-old veteran has struggled at the plate all year, hitting just .132 entering the game. He was 4 for 32 with no RBIs as a pinch hitter.

Stairs delivered, driving an 0-1 pitch from Tim Wood (0-3) off the right-field wall to score pinch-runner Alex Cora.

"I have a lot of confidence in Matt. I wanted to get him going," Johnson said. "I think he can hit falling out of bed. That's the kind of situation that turns him on. One out, the winning run on third, he's the guy I'd like up there, even if he's hitting .080."

Rangers 15, Marlins 5


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Alexi Ogando kept insisting he felt fine and wasn't wearing out only halfway through the season for the Texas Rangers.

Maybe now everybody will believe him.

Ogando limited the Florida Marlins to two runs and five hits over 6 2-3 innings with a career-high eight strikeouts, ending the right-hander's personal three-game losing streak in the Rangers' 15-5 victory Friday night when Nelson Cruz homered and had six RBIs on his 31st birthday.

"Ogando never wavered from his confidence, and more than what we thought, it was about what he thought, and it's obvious he kept saying that he was OK," manager Ron Washington said. "Tonight, he went out there and he did it."

Ogando (8-3), a converted outfielder who had never been a starter before this season, hadn't pitched past the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts. He was 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA his first 12 starts before that.

"I never say that I'm tired, I never admitted that, never think that I'm tired. I always told you that I'm OK, that my arm is right and my energy is there," Ogando said through a translator. "I'm new starting games, been learning every outing."

He got plenty of help from the Rangers offense, which rebounded for a shutout loss in Houston the previous night to score a season-high 15 runs.

Texas got its first seven runs in 3 2-3 innings off Anibal Sanchez (6-2), who saw the end of his Marlins' season record of 14 consecutive starts without a loss.

"He's a better pitcher than that. You could see he wasn't in tune tonight," manager Jack McKeon said. "He doesn't generally walk anybody. He got behind guys, walked guys, nibbled with them and missed with his breaking ball. This is a hitting club over here. You can't mess around with them. And he killed himself, walking two leadoff guys. That's like a kiss of death really. They always score, I don't care where you're at."
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