Lopez drove in four runs, one more than he had in his last 19
games, and the Braves extended their season-best winning streak to
six games with a 9-3 win Sunday night that completed a three-game
''When Javy comes through, watch our offense take off from
there,'' said Gary Sheffield, whose only hit was a two-run homer.
''If the bottom of the lineup comes through, it makes it easier on
Vinny Castilla, the No. 6 batter two spots ahead of Lopez, had
two RBI and scored two more runs to help the Braves become only
the second NL team to sweep a series in Texas. Atlanta scored 29
runs in the series.
''We broke out pretty good, and it's good to see Javy get on
track,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''But tomorrow is a new
day. We better keep surging.''
Lopez had three hits, the last a 401-foot homer to left in the
eighth. Including a sacrifice fly in Saturday's 6-3 Atlanta win,
Lopez had five RBI in two games after just 14 his first 46 games.
The Braves never trailed after Castilla singled in a run in the
fourth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lopez for a 3-1 lead.
''Everybody knows we have a great lineup. Once we get going, we
can score a lot of runs,'' Castilla said. ''This is the way
everybody expected us to play.''
Jason Marquis (5-3) went seven innings, allowing just two runs
while scattering eight hits. He struck out five and walked two.
Dave Burba (3-4), 0-4 in five starts since his last win May 11
against Detroit, gave up five runs and seven hits over six innings.
Even though the Rangers didn't have to face Greg Maddux or Tom
Glavine, they were swept at home by a NL team for the first time
since the Los Angeles Dodgers had a three-game sweep from June
30-July 2, 1998.
Texas has lost 12 of 16 games and remains in last in the AL
West, 13½ games behind Seattle.
''I continue to believe we are going to turn it around,''
Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. ''We just haven't been able to
put it together.''
Atlanta, leading the NL East by 5½ games over Florida, Montreal
and the New York Mets, extended its lead to 5-2 in the sixth when
Andruw Jones and Castilla had consecutive singles before Lopez's
two-run double into the right-center field gap.
''Except for three walks and one bad pitch to Javy, I felt I
pitched well,'' Burba said. ''If I get through the sixth, we could
have still won the game.''
Jones, who extended his hitting streak to nine games with his
sixth-inning hit, walked in the second and scored on Castilla's
double for the first Atlanta run.
Texas tied it at 1-all in the third when rookie Ryan Ludwick led
off with a double and scored on Michael Young's single. The Rangers
would have scored more if not for second baseman Jessie Garcia's
Rafael Palmeiro led off the Rangers fourth with his 12th homer
of the season, but first in 12 games. It was his 28th interleague
homer, matching Ken Griffey Jr. for second-most behind Carlos
Ludwig added an RBI double in the ninth.
LHP John Rocker, called up from the minors by Texas earlier
Sunday, didn't pitch against his old team. He never even warmed up
in the bullpen. ... Bragg, the Atlanta DH for the finale, had a
streak of six straight hits snapped by a first-inning groundout.
... Burba is 10-5 in interleague play. Only five pitchers,
including Maddux (13), have won more. ... Ludwick made his fourth
straight start in center since making his major league debut as a
defensive replacement in right Wednesday. ... Johnny Bench, who
Ivan Rodriguez has matched with 10 straight Gold Gloves and nine
straight All-Star game starts, will be in Texas on Monday when
Cincinnati begins a three-game series.
Fantasy Baseball Forecaster for Week 24: Sept. 26 to Oct. 5
Set your lineups for the week ahead in fantasy baseball with our forecaster preview, which features pitcher rankings, two-start pitchers, hitter ratings, schedule observations and more.
Fantasy baseball pitcher rankings, lineup advice for Saturday's MLB games
Everything you need to know to place your MLB bets and set your fantasy baseball lineups for Saturday, September 24.
Atlanta Braves RHP Spencer Strider on 15-day IL for strained oblique
Braves righty Spencer Strider has been put on the 15-day injured list with a strained oblique muscle.
Take a look back at Albert Pujols' biggest milestone HRs
Take a look back at the milestone Albert Pujols homers on his way to the 700 club.
What makes Albert Pujols one of the best ever as he joins 700 club
Joe Buck explains what makes Albert Pujols one of the best hitters of all time and the company he joins in the 700-homer club.
Fantasy baseball forecaster: Team hitting ratings
Stay ahead of the game and optimize your fantasy baseball hitters with our forecaster, which provides a rolling 10-day outlook of every team's hitting matchups as well as the potential for stolen bases.