Monday, September 15, 2014
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Rangers complete sweep of Braves

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[September 15, 2014]  ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers' first series sweep in more than four months was sweet and, more importantly, significant.

Second baseman Luis Sardinas and right fielder Michael Choice combined for five hits and seven RBIs in the Texas Rangers' 10-3 interleague victory Sunday over the Atlanta Braves, who continued to tumble down the National League wild-card standings.

Sardinas, who went 3-for-5 with a career-high four RBIs, - and Choice, the team's Nos. 8-9 hitters, were among a bottom three of the order that went 8-for-12 with seven RBIs, five runs and two walks.

Six Texas hitters had more than one hit as part of an 18-hit Rangers attack in support of winning pitcher Colby Lewis (6-10).

The right-hander earned only his second victory in a month, giving up one run on five hits and a walk while striking out two over seven innings.

"It's big," Lewis said of the sweep. "It's been awhile. I think it's guys getting comfortable, and we pitched well in the series."

Texas starters posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings during the sweep, Texas' first since taking three from Oakland on April 21-23. The Rangers (57-92) haven't won three consecutive games since June 11-14.

Center fielder Leonys Martin and catcher Robinson Chirinos were each 3-for-5 with an RBI. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was 2-for-4 with an RBI for Texas.

Left fielder Ryan Rua also had two hits, including a two-out double that started a six-run Rangers fifth, and two RBIs.

Choice left the game in the fifth after sustaining a hamstring injury while running out a two-run double.

"It was really nice to see him swing the bat well," Texas manager Tim Bogar said of the switch-hitting Sardinas, hitting .271 but only .246 as a left-handed hitter. "Right-handed it looks like his swing is a little stronger, so it was really nice to see him get that hit as a left-hander to get that confidence.

"He's the kind of kid who can go up there and battle and battle."

The loss spelled more trouble for the Braves, who have dropped seven of their last nine games and nine of their last 12. The Braves (75-74) lost a game to both Pittsburgh and Milwaukee in the chase for the second National League wild-card berth.

The Braves are four back of leader Pittsburgh and 2 1/2 back of the Brewers.

"We're not playing good baseball," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's not the way we're used to playing. It's a shame. We played 140-something games and the last couple of weeks we're not playing good baseball."

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Atlanta designated hitter Ryan Doumit hit a solo home run in the seventh off Lewis. Right fielder Joey Terdoslavich had a two-run double for Atlanta in the eighth off Rangers left-handed reliever Alex Claudio.

Left-hander Mike Minor (6-11) took a third consecutive loss for Atlanta. Minor battled with his command and was chased in the fifth after giving up five runs on eight hits, three walks and two hit batters in 107 pitches over 4 2/3 innings.

In his last six starts, Minor is 2-3 with a 2.63 ERA.

"A lot of pitches over five innings," Gonzalez said. "He got into some deep counts, but he's been awful good in his last five or six starts.

"Today was one of those where he might have left the ball out of the plate."

Minor allowed runners on base in every inning and allowed one run in each of the second and fourth innings before being unable to record the last out in what turned out to be a six-run fifth inning.

Chirinos registered his 35th RBI with a broken-bat single that fell into short left-center field. Sardinas drove in his second run with a run-scoring single before Choice drove a ball into the gap in left-center field, driving in Sardinas and Adam Rosales.

Martin and Andrus accounted for the inning's final two runs each with an RBI single that gave Lewis an 8-0 cushion.

"It's easier to go out there and throw strikes after that," said Lewis, who left after 86 pitches and a minor protest when Bogar pulled him after the seventh. "I wanted to finish that. You always want to finish."

NOTES: Braves C Evan Gattis missed a sixth consecutive game because of strep throat. ... Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning double. ... Texas OF Michael Choice left the game after pulling up with a strained left hamstring while running out a two-run double in the fifth. An MRI is scheduled for Monday. ... Rangers entered having lost 58 of their last 79 games. ... Texas entered having secured a fourth consecutive series victory over Atlanta (2005, '08, '11).

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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