Braves Make It 3 in Row

From Associated Press

The starters are stringing together shutout innings. The bullpen is holding those slim leads. The Atlanta Braves are in first place all by themselves.

Seems like old times, doesn't it?

John Burkett pitched seven shutout innings and Keith Lockhart and Dave Martinez hit solo home runs Thursday as the Braves defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 2-1, for a two-game sweep.

A third consecutive victory overall kept the Braves alone in first place in the National League East for a day in a row and increased their lead to a season-high two games. They moved ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, the first time they'd been in first alone since June 27.

"I really don't think we're going to give it up," said Martinez, who matched his career high with four hits. "This team is known for winning. The attitude is every time we take the field, somehow, some way we're going to win."

The latest victory came with another setback. Lockhart suffered a sprained right ankle while chasing a ball in the hole at second base and left in the sixth inning. X-rays were negative.

He was replaced by Jesse Garcia, the Braves' only other sound middle infielder. Shortstop Rafael Furcal is sidelined for the season because of a dislocated shoulder, and second baseman Quilvio Veras has sat out the last six games because of sore ribs. Veras probably will go on the disabled list if he's not better today.

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