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Braves break out

McCann drives in four in win over Nats

    ATLANTA — Brian McCann delivered the slump-busting big hits the Atlanta Braves desperately needed.
    McCann’s run-scoring single gave the Braves their first lead in a week, and he added a three-run homer to lift Atlanta to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday night.
    The Braves snapped a five-game losing streak, their longest of the season. The streak included four shutout losses.
    In the only game in that stretch they were not shut out, the Braves managed only one run — on a Chipper Jones homer — in a 2-1 loss to Detroit on Saturday.
    The Braves ended a streak of 48 innings without holding a lead when McCann’s fourth-inning single drove in Edgar Renteria for a 1-0 lead. The Braves had not led a game since beating the Boston Red Sox 9-4 last Monday.
    McCann’s second four-RBI game of the season helped Tim Hudson (7-5) win for the first time since May 30.
    Hudson, who had two losses and two no-decisions in his first four starts of June, gave up seven hits and one run with no walks in seven innings. He had nine strikeouts, matching his combined total from his first four starts of the month.
    Bob Wickman got three outs for his 13th save in 16 chances.
    In the fourth, Renteria reached on a fielder’s choice grounder and moved to second on a line-drive single up the middle by Chipper Jones. Washington starter Jason Bergmann lost his cap as he ducked to avoid Jones’ liner.
    Renteria, who moved to third on Andruw Jones’ fly ball to center, scored easily on McCann’s single to left.
    Bergmann (1-4), who came off the disabled list to start after missing five weeks with an inflamed right elbow, gave up four hits — including three in the fourth inning — and one run with four strikeouts in four innings.
    McCann’s three-run homer off Washington reliever Billy Traber drove in Renteria, who doubled, and Andruw Jones, who was given an intentional walk with McCann on deck.
    Austin Kearns led off the seventh with an infield single and scored on Brian Schneider’s single to left to cut Atlanta’s lead to 4-1.
    Braves reliever Rafael Soriano struck out the side in the eighth after giving up a leadoff single to Felipe Lopez.
Notes: McCann’s run-scoring single in the fourth ended the Braves’ 0-for-24 drought with runners in scoring position. ... Bergmann’s last start came May 14 in a win at home over Atlanta.

Cox remains confident in Braves’ bats
    Even as he continues to tinker with the starting lineup of an offense that has been shut out in four of the team’s last five games, Braves manager Bobby Cox says he still believes in his hitters.
    ‘‘Yeah, the hitting is there, absolutely,’’ Cox said before Monday night’s start of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.
    The Braves have been outscored 27-1 in five straight losses. Andruw Jones, hitting .199, was moved back into the cleanup spot on Monday as Chipper Jones moved up to his customary No. 3 spot.
    ‘‘I’m trying to go back near our old lineup, see what happens,’’ Cox said. ‘‘Andruw’s starting to really swing good.’’
    Cox said when the Braves played interleague games at Minnesota and Cleveland, he believed his lineup compared favorably with teams accustomed to using the designated hitter.
    ‘‘When we had the DH going in those other parks, man, I liked our lineup,’’ Cox said. ‘‘I looked at our lineup, looked at theirs, I thought, ’Hey, we match up pretty good here.’’’
    The Braves rank ninth in the National League with their .262 batting average and only 12th in runs scored.
    Scott Thorman, in his first season as a full-time starter at first base, is hitting only .232. Catcher Brian McCann has fallen to .250 after his 2006 All-Star season.
    Two of the team’s leading hitters, Willie Harris and Matt Diaz, share one starting job in left field. Cox recently moved Harris, hitting .379, into the leadoff spot, and former leadoff hitter Kelly Johnson, hitting .274, hit seventh on Monday night.
    ‘‘I didn’t want to move Kelly,’’ Cox said. ‘‘It’s just Willie’s hitting almost .380. I want to leave him up there. Maybe Kelly can get into some RBI situations. He doesn’t deserve to be moved, period. I couldn’t ask for a better job. But we gotta do something.’’

All-Star voting
    The Braves have only three players among the leaders in NL All-Star voting.
    Third baseman Chipper Jones is third in the voting. McCann is fourth among catchers and Andruw Jones is fifth among outfielders.
    The team’s most deserving player may be shortstop Edgar Renteria, sixth in the league in hitting at .324. He has 10 homers, 36 RBIs and leads the team with 47 runs scored.
    Renteria also boasts the top road batting average, .364, in the league.

Sign 'em up
    The Braves have signed seven of their first 10 picks and 17 overall from this month’s draft.
    The Braves have not signed first-round pick Jason Heyward, an outfielder from Henry County High School.
    The team has signed its second pick, third baseman John Gilmore, a supplemental round selection, as well as second-round pick Frederick Freeman, a first baseman from El Modena (Calif.) High, and shortstop Brandon Hicks, a third-round pick.
    Among others who have signed are pitcher Cory Gearrin, a fourth-round pick from Mercer, and University of Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon.

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