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Braves lose yet another 1-run game

POSTED: June 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Atlanta Braves catcher Corky Miller, right, watches as Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler (5) pumps his fist while coming home and scoring on a single by Michael Young in the ninth inning on Thursday in Arlington, Texas.

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Michael Young snapped a 1-for-31 slump in a dramatic way.

The four-time All-Star had the game-ending RBI single and the Texas Rangers rallied twice to beat Atlanta 5-4 Thursday, the Braves’ major league record 22nd straight one-run loss on the road.
Hitless in his previous 13 at bats, Young knew it was about time to reverse that trend.

“Gradually today I started seeing the ball better and driving the ball to right field,” said Young, whose average during the slump had dipped from .304 to .282 prior to Thursday’s game. “I think I’m on my way. Sometimes a slump is good for you. I love playing in the big leagues because the game always pushes you to test you.”

With the score 4-all, Ian Kinsler led off the ninth with a double off Blaine Boyer (1-5). Chris Shelton popped out on a bunt attempt before Young lined a single to right off Jeff Bennett. Kinsler scored without a throw to the plate as right fielder Jeff Francoeur was unable to field the ball cleanly, and Young was mobbed on the field by his teammates.

“I felt like I would have had a chance to make a play but it was hard hit,” Francoeur said. “It either flew out of my glove or I might have kicked it. I felt my glove and the ball wasn’t there. It had to be a really good throw because (Kinsler) is fast.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington felt confident that Young’s slump wouldn’t last much longer.

“We certainly had the right guy up at the right time, and he delivered,” Washington said. “We all know what type of hitter Michael is. If he is in a slump, we know it won’t be for long.”

Chipper Jones went 0-for-4 for the Braves as his major league-leading batting average fell below .400 for the first time since April 12. He’s hitting .394.

Atlanta now has lost 22 straight one-run games on the road, a major league record according to Elias Sports Bureau. The previous mark was 21 by Kansas City during a stretch over the 2000-01 seasons. Atlanta hasn’t won a one-run game on the road since Aug. 10, 2007.

Rookie Brandon Boggs hit a three-run homer for the Rangers, who lost four of six before Thursday’s victory moved them back to .500 (37-37) .

Rangers starter Scott Feldman gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings, but Wilson faltered for the second straight game.

Wilson was the losing pitcher in Atlanta’s 5-2 victory on Wednesday night when his two-base throwing error led to three ninth-inning runs, and on Thursday Wilson allowed two runs and two hits while getting just one out.

Wilson walked Mark Teixeira to lead off the ninth, and after striking out Kelly Johnson, gave up a double to Greg Norton. Francoeur followed with an infield single to drive in Teixeira. Washington brought in Jamey Wright, who gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Omar Infante to tie it at 4.
At first, Wilson said he was surprised to be removed from a save situation.

“Initially, yeah,” said Wilson, who has converted 14 of 16 save situations this season, his first as the full-time closer. “Then I realized I’m not a strategy piece. I’m an action piece; that’s my function. They made the move and we won the game.”

Washington wouldn’t commit to Wilson as his long-term closer, saying he’ll discuss the situation with his coaching staff.

“I haven’t thought about that yet,” Washington said. “We still have trust in C.J. I took him out because I thought after last night with all the pitches he’d thrown he should come out.”

Wright (4-2) got two outs for the decision.

Atlanta took a 2-1 lead into the sixth before starter Charlie Morton ran into trouble in his second big-league start, allowing a bunt single to David Murphy and a walk to Marlon Byrd. Braves manager Bobby Cox brought in Jeff Ridgway from the bullpen. Boggs, an Atlanta-area resident and Georgia Tech product, pulled an 0-2 pitch into the left-field seats for his third homer.

“I grew up watching the Braves all the time,” Boggs said. “It’s a great feeling. I probably have a lot of messages from people at home right now.”

Boggs looked down, checked his phone, and said, “Yep.”

Morton allowed three runs and five hits in five-plus innings, striking out three and walking four.

The Braves return to Atlanta for a six-game homestand after a 4-6 road trip. They opened the trip with a 7-21 road record, then were swept by the Chicago Cubs in three games.

But Atlanta took two of three from the Los Angeles Angels, then won a makeup game at Colorado before dropping two of three in Texas.

The Braves were trying to capture back-to-back road series for the first time this season.

“We played a lot better on this trip,” Jones said. “We were in a lot of games. We won half as many games on this trip as we’d won all year. It could have been better, but you’ve got to crawl before you can walk. We pitched better and we didn’t quit.”

For the second straight game, Texas was without top hitter Milton Bradley, shelved by a strained left quadriceps. Washington said he was “hopeful” Bradley and his .330 average would be back in the lineup for a weekend road series against the Washington Nationals.

Notes: Atlanta stole two bases, giving Texas opponents 23 in a row when Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the catcher. ... Texas 1B Hank Blalock is set to begin a three-game rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma over the weekend. Blalock is recovering from wrist surgery and he’s also making the transition from 3B. ... Atlanta’s Gregor Blanco had a 15-pitch at-bat against Eddie Guardado in the eighth before being called out on strikes.



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