Braves Notebook: Jones showing signs of life at plate

SAN DIEGO - There hasn't been much for Andruw Jones to feel good about at the plate this season. But the Braves center fielder will at least now be hitting above .200 at the All-Star break, barring a disastrous game today.

That might not figure prominently in the promotional materials agent Scott Boras hands out when Jones becomes a free agent this fall. But it will reduce the embarrassment of Jones's numbers at midseason.

Jones hit a two-run triple in Atlanta's 8-5 loss to the San Diego Padres on Saturday, raising his average to .204 - its highest point in nearly three weeks. And he has hit safely in eight of the Braves' nine games on this road trip, with RBIs in four straight games.

"When you get a hit every day, your confidence picks up," Jones said. "My confidence is pretty good right now at the plate. Not that I didn't have it while I was struggling, but I just feel good at the plate right now."

With Atlanta trailing 5-3 in the seventh inning Saturday, Jones drove the ball to the gap in deep right-center field to tie the game. In the Braves' 7-4 win Friday, Jones recorded his first multi-hit game in nearly a month. He connected on a two-run homer and an RBI single.

"It's huge when we can get Andruw back in there doing what he's doing now," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "It gives us a bunch of threats."

McCann, Salty OK

There was an off chance the Braves would have to start either Matt Diaz or Yunel Escobar at catcher Saturday, with Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia both banged up after Friday.

But both McCann and Saltalamacchia were back in the lineup, preventing the spectacle of Atlanta's leftfielder or rookie infielder behind the plate.

McCann missed the previous two games with a sprained right knee. But an MRI Friday showed the injury was not serious, and McCann started at catcher Saturday.

Saltalamacchia had to leave Friday's game after a foul tip struck him in his left temple, rendering him a bit woozy. But he felt better when he woke up Saturday and started at first base.

"I don't think he'll get hit in the head over there," manager Bobby Cox said before the game. "He might, I don't know. He hasn't played a lot there."

Davies looks to rebound

Pitcher Kyle Davies will look to earn his first win in more than five weeks today when he starts against the Padres. The right-hander had an awful start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday, giving up five runs in two innings.

That followed a month of mostly poor outings. Since earning a win against the Chicago Cubs on June 1, Davies has taken the loss in four of five starts. He enters today's game at 3-7 with a 5.85 ERA, the second worst among National League starters with a minimum of 80 innings pitched.

"The biggest thing is just location," Davies said. "You have to hit your spots, and you have to hit your spots with good stuff, and I haven't done either."

At age 23, Davies still has time to develop. But since he made his debut in 2005, that development has been a slow and often losing process. His career numbers: 13-20 with a 6.19 ERA.

"I think the progress is still there," Davies said. "I'm not really trying to work on anything. I just want to get people out. You can throw a pitch right down the middle and get somebody out, and you did your job."

On deck

Davies will face former Braves pitcher and current Padres right-hander Greg Maddux (7-5, 3.96 ERA) in an 8:05 p.m. start at Petco Park today. The game will conclude a 10-day road trip for Atlanta and will be the team's last game before the All-Star break.

SideBar: Hometown Braves

How Gwinnett's stars fared in Saturday's game:

Jeff Francoeur

2-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs

Season: .292 avg, 10 HR, 58 RBIs

Brian McCann


Season: .258 avg, 8 HR, 45 RBIs