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Braves end season's first half with dominating win

POSTED: July 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.
The Associated Press/

Chipper Jones is congratulated by teammates after driving in a run in the Braves win over San Diego on Sunday.

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SAN DIEGO — All-Star catcher Brian McCann says he likes being "locked in." His Atlanta Braves teammates like him that way, too.

McCann homered and drove in three runs to help the Braves rout the San Diego Padres 12-3 on Sunday in the rubber game of the three-game series.

McCann, who made the All-Star team for the third time, extended his on-base streak to eight straight plate appearances. That includes three walks Saturday night and a walk and hit by pitch along with his 3-for-3 day Sunday.

"It's good to be locked in. You try to stay locked in as long as you can, because you know that at some point, you're gonna come out of it," McCann said. "Baseball's up and down. I was down for about two or three weeks where I wasn't hitting anything. That's just baseball."

McCann hit his 18th home run off of Padres reliever Josh Banks in the seventh inning. That was after his RBI single in the Braves three-run first inning and before his RBI double in a three-run ninth.

"I think Brian is one of those cerebral hitters who's able to make adjustments on the fly," said Chipper Jones, who will join McCann at the All-Star game. "Not everyone can do that."

Braves manager Bobby Cox notched his 2,300 career win, fourth all-time among managers.

"Oh, I didn't know that. Now I can tell my wife. She always asks me, and I never have a clue," Cox said.
"We hit the ball pretty good today. I think this will give them a good feeling for a four-day break."

The Braves went into the break at 45-50, 61/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. It marked just the third time in the last 18 seasons that the Braves have reached the All-Star break below .500.

The woeful Padres lost their second straight and are 37-58, 10 games behind Arizona in the NL West. They are 23-30 at home and 14-28 on the road.

"It would have been good to get to the break with a 'W' today," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But they broke out today."

Black is headed to the All-Star game as the NL pitching coach, along with his first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Atlanta rookie Jorge Campillo, who had more than 40 family and friends from his home town of Tijuana at the game, tossed six strong innings to even his record at 4-4. He had to leave the game in the top of the seventh when he fouled a pitch off his left foot.

Mark Teixeira had two doubles and two RBIs, and Brent Lillibridge went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

The Braves took a 3-0 lead in the first on Teixeira's two-run double off Padres starter Randy Wolf (6-9). Atlanta chased Wolf with a five-run sixth inning that featured five singles, and tacked on three more runs in the ninth.

Wolf gave up six runs and six hits in five innings.

Braves starter Tim Hudson made his first Major League relief appearance in his nine year career, pitching a perfect eighth. He had made 301 previous starts.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, who had three hits, drove in two of the Padres runs with an RBI single in the first and his 12th home run in sixth off Campillo. Rookie Chase Headley hit his sixth home run, a 434-foot blast off reliever Mike Gonzalez in the ninth.

That home run snapped a 62-inning homerless streak by Braves relievers, dating back to June 22 against Seattle.

The 12 runs were the most the Braves have scored since May 21, when they beat the Mets 11-4 in Atlanta.

Notes: McCann leads all major league catchers with 18 home runs and 27 doubles. He has 53 RBIs and is hitting .302. ... After going 0-for-2 with one run scored, one RBI, one sacrifice fly and two walks, Jones is now hitting .397 on the road this season (23-for-58) with three doubles, six home runs, 12 RBIS and 18 runs scored. He leads the majors in hitting at .376. ... Kouzmanoff has now hit safely in 17 of his last 21 games for the Padres and is hitting .341 over that 21-game stretch with nine doubles, one triple, four homers and 12 RBIs. It was his 16th three-hit or more game.






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