The Braves acquired Dan Uggla this past offseason in the hopes of making a second straight playoff appearance. After a very slow start to the season, the second baseman is delivering in a big way.
Uggla aims to get Atlanta closer to securing the National League Wild Card this afternoon in the finale with a three-game series with the Florida Marlins.
Looking to add some power to their lineup, the Braves traded for Uggla in November and signed him to a long-term contract. Uggla, though, struggled at the onset and was batting just .173 on July 4 before beginning what ended up being a 33-game hitting streak. Overall, he is hitting .320 with 21 homers and 44 RBI in 61 games since early July and clubbed his career-best 34th homer of the season in last night's 7-1 victory.
Uggla and Brian McCann both connected on three-run homers to help the Braves snap a season-high four-game slide. The victory kept them 4 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals for the wild card spot and lowered their magic number for clinching the playoff berth to 10.
"It's always good to top a feat that you've never done before. Hopefully I've got a few more in the tank before the end of the season," Uggla said after going deep for the fourth time against his former club.
Emilio Bonifacio drove in the Marlins' lone run and Brad Hand gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings as his club had a four-game winning streak come to an end.
"It's always a team effort, but tonight I was trying to keep us in the game and hold that 1-0 lead," said Hand. "Just that 2-0 pitch to McCann -- the homer -- hurt me."
Randall Delgado takes the hill for the Braves with a chance at pitching them to a series victory and will be looking to secure his first major league victory in the process.
The 21-year-old is 0-1 with a 3.60 earned run average in his first four big- league starts, including a loss in his debut on June 17. He has given up four runs over 10 innings since returning to the majors this month and nearly beat the Cardinals on Friday. Delgado allowed a run over five innings and left with the lead before the bullpen faltered late.
The righty faces the Marlins for the first time and squares off against veteran Ricky Nolasco, who halted a four-start winless streak (0-2) on Friday with a victory at Pittsburgh.
Nolasco allowed three runs on nine hits over six innings without a walk, striking out five in the 13-4 win. The 28-year-old right-hander moved to 10-10 on the season with a 4.40 ERA.
Nolasco also did not walk a batter the last time he faced the Braves on July 31 and came away with a victory. He gave up one run over 6 2/3 innings despite allowing 12 hits.
"I'd rather give up 12 hits and not walk anybody than however else you want to divide it up," said Nolasco. "They were a bunch of singles. I'm not taking anything away from them cause they are a great hitting team. You just have to battle and keep making good pitches. I was glad to hold them to just the one run."
Nolasco is 5-6 with a 4.73 ERA lifetime versus the Braves, while Uggla is 3- for-8 with a solo homer against his former teammate.
Atlanta has won all six of its game in Florida this year, but has split eight meetings at home with the Marlins this year.