Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 4/14/12
This is what the Braves expect from their offense every game. There was Brian McCann going 4-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and even a rare stolen base. There was Dan Uggla going 3-for-5 with three RBIs, including the game winners. There was Michael Bourn with two hits, a triple and two runs scored. And there were the Braves, scoring a season-high 10 runs on a season-high 14 hits. They hit two doubles, two home runs and a triple. They batted around in a six-run fifth inning. And they did all of this with Chipper Jones sitting on the bench with a swollen left knee. This was the first game this season where the Braves hit like they think they can. And they needed all 10 of those runs to knock off the Milwaukee Brewers 10-8 on Friday, because their vaunted bullpen failed to protect a three-run lead. These Braves hitters didn't resemble the bunch that was held to four hits in a season-opening 1-0 loss to the New York Mets, or the one that scored two runs on seven hits in the second game. They came out with confidence and a desire to prove they don't need Jones in the lineup to spark the offense. The Braves struck early with a run in the first. They had the huge fifth. And they scored late, with Uggla driving in two runs in the eighth after the Brewers had fought back to tie the game at 8-8 in the seventh. "We haven't been in a slugfest in quite a long time," McCann said. "Some guys put together some really good at-bats and made their pitchers work. This is kind of foreign territory for this team, the last year-and-a-half, two years. That eighth inning was huge." The Braves haven't had the success lately that they had in the 1990s and earlier this century, but they're built along the same lines. Even though McCann and Uggla are established big-league sluggers, as is Jones, when he's healthy, this franchise still places more emphasis on pitching and developing arms in the minors. It's more likely the Braves will be involved in low-scoring pitcher's duels than a slugfest. And, like McCann said, it's even more rare when the Braves score 10 runs in a game. They did that only six times in 2011, and were averaging only 3.7 runs a game entering Friday. It also was the first time since Aug. 25, 2011 that the Braves have scored at least eight runs. Two days later, Hurricane Irene pounded New York, postponing two games, a momentum breaker from which the Braves never recovered. They also were facing a left-hander in Randy Wolf, and lefties have been known to be able to neutralize the Braves' left-handed heavy lineup. In addition to McCann and Bourn, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward also hit left-handed, but the Braves were unfazed on Friday. But Wolf showed that he's not Cliff Lee, or even Johan Santana, who shut down the Braves on opening day. "Overall, we swung the bats really, really well," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. McCann was particularly effective. He doubled in Bourn in the first, singled in the third, hit a three-run home run in the fifth and singled again in the sixth. Falling a triple short of the cycle, McCann instead stole second. It took a diving stab from Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks in the eighth to prevent McCann's first five-hit game. Instead, it was his eighth career four-hit performance. "(McCann) steps up in big situations," Uggla said. "He'll put the team on his back when he needs to. They had to make a great play to get him out. It's fun to watch him when he's like that. He takes a lot of pride in being the kind of player that he is. He showed it (Friday)." Even part-time left fielder Matt Diaz contributed, hitting his first home run since Aug. 29, 2010, a two-run shot in the sixth-run fifth. "The odds were in his favor," Uggla said. The Braves have the potential to have a strong offense, and games like these are why GM Frank Wren didn't leverage the team's top prospects to bring in another hitter. Wren believes rebounds by McCann, Uggla, Heyward and Martin Prado, and having Bourn around for an entire year, will be enough. Obviously, the Braves won't score 10 runs every game, but their bats are trending. They've scored 22 runs the past three games all wins -- after scoring 10 in the first four all losses. That's a trend they believe will continue.
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