Dan Uggla's hitting streak is not only the longest for the franchise during its time in Atlanta, but now it might be ending other people's careers.
Uggla and his 32-game hitting streak will face a Chicago Cubs team in a bit of a confused state after the actions of starter Carlos Zambrano in last night's opener of a three-game series at Turner Field.
On a night when the Braves inducted former manager Bobby Cox into the club's Hall of Fame and retired his uniform No. 6 during a pre-game ceremony, Uggla broke the record with a homer in the second inning. That snapped his tie with Rico Carty (1970) for the longest hitting streak for the franchise since relocating to Atlanta. Tommy Holmes has the longest in Braves annals with a 37-game stretch in 1945 when the franchise was located in Boston.
Uggla's streak dates back to July 5, when he was hitting just .173. His current run has lifted that average to a season-high .229 and his second homer of the game last night gave him 26 on the season.
"I'm just rolling with it," Uggla said. "Trying to stay relaxed and do my part."
The Braves rolled to a fifth straight victory and the wild card leaders picked up a game on first-place Philadelphia in the National League East, pulling to within 7 1/2 games.
"We're getting down to the home stretch right now," Uggla said. "We need to concentrate on getting as many wins as we can."
Freddie Freeman, Jose Constanza and Chipper Jones all added home runs off Zambrano, with the five long balls serving as a career high allowed for the starter. Zambrano then opted to get himself ejected in the fifth following back-to-back homers by Freeman and Uggla as he tried to hit Jones with a pair of pitches.
"He seemed like he was frustrated," Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He was trying to take it out on Chipper, simple as that. Missed him the first time. Second time, missed him again, and got thrown out. I wish it didn't happen, but it did."
Zambrano kept things interesting after the game. He cleared out his locker and said he was retiring.
"I don't know where he's at," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their [expletive] butts off for him. I don't know where he's gone or what he's doing. I heard he's retired, or talking about retiring. I can't have a guy walking out on 24 guys. That's for [darn] sure."
While the Cubs lost for just the third time in 12 games, it was their ninth setback in their past 13 meetings with the Braves.
Chicago's embattled rotation now turns to Randy Wells, who will look to rebound from a rough outing last Sunday versus the Reds.
Wells allowed six runs on eight hits, including three homers, over seven innings, but did not factor into the decision of an 8-7 loss. The right-hander has now given up 15 homers in 14 starts this year.
Wells is 3-4 with a 6.05 earned run average on the season and the 28-year-old is 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four lifetime meetings with the Braves.
Getting the call for the Braves tonight is Derek Lowe, who snapped a three- game losing streak with a win at Florida on Monday. The righty scattered two runs, six hits and three walks over six innings to claim an 8-5 win and found his groove after getting the Marlins' Gaby Sanchez to hit into an inning- ending double play with the bases loaded in the first inning.
"The call of the night was clearly the sinker into Gaby Sanchez in the first inning," Lowe said. "To be able to get a big double play there gives you confidence. That was the pitch of the whole game."
The 38-year-old is 7-10 with a 4.78 ERA in 25 games and brings a career 3-1 mark and 3.56 ERA against the Cubs into this game.