PHOENIX -- Braves second baseman Dan Uggla hit his second home run of the season Saturday and is optimistic it's the first of many to come this year.Uggla, who hit a career-high 36 home runs last season and averages 32 per year throughout his career, is hitting .241 with eight RBIs. Both of his home runs have come in his last four games. "It was a matter of time before I got the first one and hopefully, they will just start rolling in after that," Uggla said. "I've been battling, working every day to get my timing and be as comfortable as I can. It's been OK." Heading into Sunday's series finale with the D-backs, Uggla had hit safely in four consecutive games. The Braves, winners in 10 of their last 11 games, had scored 45 runs on 60 hits in their last five games. "Our [individual] numbers aren't astronomical, but it just means that everybody has been pitching in," Uggla said. "[Jason Heyward] has had a great last nine games, and Freddie [Freeman] has been on fire the last four or five. [Martin] Prado is really swinging it well. Michael Bourn has been unbelievable."
McCann credits McDowell with staff's success
PHOENIX -- Leave it to Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez to credit catcher Brian McCann for his work with starter Tommy Hanson on Saturday and the rest of the pitching staff this week in Arizona.A humble McCann sure isn't going to credit himself. "I give a lot of credit to [pitching coach] Roger McDowell," McCann said. "To me, Roger McDowell is the best in the business. I've never been around anyone that understands the game of baseball and hitters like he does. I just try to pick his brain as much as I can, and it's worked out for everybody in here." On Thursday, Mike Minor gave up two runs on five hits in a career-high eight innings for the win in the series opener against the D-backs, and Brandon Beachy followed the effort on Friday with 7 1/3 scoreless innings in a 9-1 victory. On Saturday, Hanson was charged with two runs on five hits in seven strong innings for the win, marking the third consecutive quality start. "I've seen them progress 100 percent. They have really stepped up and have been what we needed," McCann said. "Starting pitching wins a bunch of games and we feel comfortable with the five guys running out there. We'll get [Tim Hudson] back soon, and he can climb up there and be the ace of the staff and everyone will fall into place and keep it rolling." Overall, Braves starters are 8-5 and rank sixth in the National League with 3.50 ERA this season. Beachy leads the Major Leagues with a 0.47 ERA. "Pitchers are understanding what we are trying to do," McCann said. "They are calling more of their games sometimes and not leaving it up to us to call the pitches. They are trying to set up hitters and learning how to pitch."
Heyward gets a breather
PHOENIX -- One day after his 10-game hitting streak came to an end, Jason Heyward was not in the starting lineup Sunday in the series finale against the D-backs. Heyward remains available to pitch-hit and could see action as a defensive replacement, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said."He has been playing his butt off, he really has," Gonzalez said. "I didn't put the lineup out until I talked to him. I said, 'We are going to give you a little breather and we really appreciate the way you have been playing.' I wanted to give his body a little bit of a rest." Heyward hit .385 with two home runs and six RBIs during the 10-game hitting streak. He already has five stolen bases this season after compiling only nine all of last season. "I've been going hard since Day 1 of Spring Training," Heyward said. "I'm working hard on playing the game and taking care of everything I can, so when it's time to play the games, I will compete and use all of my abilities."
It has not been determined if injured pitcher Tim Hudson will pitch Sunday or Monday against Pittsburgh when he returns from the disabled list, but Gonzalez said Hanson will open the four-game series Friday against the Pirates after Thursday's off-day.
Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky, who is hitting .158 with seven strikeouts in his last 10 games, was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game Sunday. Jack Wilson made his second consecutive start at the position.