Glaus becomes a hit for first-place Braves

ATLANTA (Reuters) - An off-season gamble to acquire a journeyman hitter has been the chief reason the Atlanta Braves have gone from worst to first in just two weeks in the wacky National League East.

Veteran first baseman Troy Glaus, acquired from St. Louis after an injury-shortened 2009 season, has become the man of the hour for the Braves.

After an atrocious April, the 33-year-old former World Series MVP hit .330 in May while driving in 28 runs, best in the National League for the month.

"He's been unbelievable," Braves catcher Brain McCann told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Twenty-eight RBIs in a month - I've never had a month like that," added an equally impressed Braves slugger Chipper Jones.

Along the way, the Braves (29-22) have won 11 of their past 13 games, including six in a row.

A shake-up in the Atlanta batting order aided Glaus, a 13-year Major League veteran who won World Series MVP honors with the Anaheim Angels in 2002.

Braves manager Bobby Cox shifted Martin Prado to leadoff with Jason Heyward batting second, followed most often by Jones and Glaus.

The result has been 14 RBIs in 17 games since May 14 for Glaus, who hit a paltry .194 with more strikeouts (21) than hits (14) in April. A career .256 hitter, Glaus has raised his batting average this season to .274.

"They're doing a great job of getting on - Jason, Martin, and Chipper and all those guys," Glaus said. "The more opportunities you have, the more chances you have to be successful.

"Being in the middle of the lineup, that's all you want are opportunities."

The Braves' early season play was pitiful and included a nine-game losing streak.

"I thought I was having good at-bats - obviously some bad ones, too," Glaus said.

"(But) I'm not here for numbers. I'm here to help the team win. ... For the first three-and-a-half or four weeks, it didn't work out that way."

Confidence played a big role in the turnaround, said Jones.

"You get a hitter who's confident and hot and on top of his swing and you give him opportunities with runners on base every day, day in and day out, sometimes multiple times - that's how you do it," he said.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina. Editing by Steve Ginsburg)