The Juice: Justin Upton’s walk-off home run pushes Braves lead to 15 1/2 games in NL East (Big League Stew)

By at 17 August, 2013, 2:44 am

The Juice returns for season No. 6! It's almost eligible for free-agency! Stop by daily for news from the action, along with great photos, stats, video highlights and more. The race in the National League East is all but decided at this point, but the Atlanta Braves don't look like a team that's content with its position. I guess a late-season collapse like the one suffered in 2011 will give you that continued sense of urgency, and the Braves are channeling it perfectly. On Friday, they extended their lead in the division to 15 1/2 games with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals in 10 innings. Justin Upton played the role of hero, delivering his second walk-off home run of the season — No. 23 overall — as Atlanta improved to 11-3 against the defending division champions. And no, they still aren't comfortable. From the Associated Press: ''There's a lot of baseball to be played,'' Upton said. ''Our lead is pretty big right now, but crazier things have happened in baseball. You've got to go out and win as many games as you can.'' Indeed crazier things have happened, but an Atlanta collapse this season would certainly challenge for the crown. Phillies fall in Ryne Sandberg’s debut: By firing the most successful manager in franchise history, Charlie Manuel, on Friday, the Philadelphia Phillies did replacement Ryne Sandberg both a favor and a disservice. Of course promoting him to manager is the favor, but putting him in the dugout immediately ahead of their weekend series with the sizzling Los Angeles Dodgers is anything but. Sandberg and the Phillies couldn't avoid the buzzsaw on Friday, managing only three hits in a 4-0 loss . Zack Greinke did the bulk of the work on the hill for LA, tossing 7 1/3 innings. Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen closed it out as the Dodgers picked up their 41st win in their last 49 games.
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