Atlanta, GA – Ask any MLB pundit and they will tell you month of August is the most important month of the regular season. A successful close to the season can propel a team to a deep playoff run, while a timid crawl to the finish does not bode well for a short playoff opening series.
Unfortunately for the Atlanta Braves, the month of August has been less than kind. Despite a strong start to the season, Atlanta has limped to 2-8 record over the first half of the month to fall behind the pace in both the division and wildcard races.
The Braves (63-60) hoped to make that put that stretch behind them on Sunday when they welcomed to Oakland Athletics to Turner for field for the final game of their weekend series. A win would give the Braves pivotal series sweep and improve their record to 4-1 in their last five games.
The Athletics (73-50) have been faced with struggles of their own, having lost six of their last seven games, following the trade that sent star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston, and brought pitching ace John Lester to the Bay Area.
The Athletics would open the scoring in the top of the second on a colossal shot to deep center by Nate Freiman that was measured at 459 feet, for a 1-0 lead.
That lead would be short lived, as The Braves would respond in the home half of that inning on a single by Evan Gattis that scored Justin Upton from third.
Atlanta would take the lead in the fourth at 3-1, capitalizing on a two run blast to left field by Justin Upton.
Oakland would cut into the deficit in the top of the 7th, benefiting from a second long homerun by Freiman, pulling the game to 3-2.
The Braves would extend their once again to 4-2 on a laser to left by Chris Johnson, which Gattis followed with single to end the night for Lester with no outs.
The Athletics would battle back again in their half of the eighth, capitalizing on a sac fly by Coco Crisp to score Sam Fuld from third, cutting the deficit to 4-3.
That would do it for the scoring as Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth to secure the series defining victory at home.
The Braves will next make the trip to Pittsburg, PA for a three game set, while the Athletics head home for two game set with the New York Mets.
Justin Upton (2/3, 2 RBI, 2 Runs)
Nate Freidman (2/4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 Runs)