ATLANTA - Brian McCann didn't play in the season finale at Houston, but the Braves still had two players from Gwinnett County in the starting lineup.
Making it even more noteworthy, they were former high school teammates.
Clint Sammons got his first major league start Sunday and definitely made the most of it.
Joining Parkview buddy Jeff Francoeur in the Braves' lineup, the catcher went 2-for-3 with a double and also threw out a base runner in the Braves' 3-0 loss to the Astros.
A .667 average will look pretty impressive going into next season, especially for someone whose forte is defense.
"It was a thrill," Sammons said on Monday. "Hopefully, this will be a springboard for me going into next season."
Sammons rapped into a double play in his first major league at-bat in the second inning, but singled sharply in the fourth and almost connected for a home run in the seventh.
Facing left-handed reliever Mark McLemore, the right-handed hitting Sammons smacked a drive to left field that hit off the scoreboard in front of the Crawford Boxes at Minute Maid Park.
"The pitch got in on me a little, but I thought it had a chance to be a home run," Sammons said. "I'll sure take the double, though."
The Braves had just four hits in the season-ending loss and Sammons had half of them.
"I have confidence in my hitting," Sammons said. "I've worked hard on it."
But it's because of his glove and arm - not his bat - that the 24-year-old has a chance to win the backup catcher job to McCann next spring with the Braves. Sammons showed off his arm in the sixth inning, nailing rookie J.R. Towles of the Astros trying to get to second on a curveball in the dirt.
The caught stealing made Sammons 1 of 2 as a major-leaguer. He had made his only other appearance on Sept. 12 at New York as an eighth-inning defensive replacement, almost nailing the Mets' speedy Carlos Beltran.
Sammons led all minor league prospects this season, throwing out 51.2 percent of would-be base stealers while playing for Class A Myrtle Beach and Class AA Mississippi.
"He can play up here defensively," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "He looks good back there."
Sammons could become a perfect backup for McCann, just like Eddie Perez was for Javy Lopez while the Braves were winning division titles year after year.
McCann took the final few days off, but still played in 139 games. The Duluth grad hit .270 with 38 doubles, 18 homers and 92 RBIs.
Francoeur started all 162 games, pushing his streak to 326. He finished with a .293 average, 40 doubles, 19 homers and a team-best 105 RBIs. His 19 outfield assists led the majors and he came within one of the Atlanta record of 20 set by Andruw Jones in 1998.
The Braves finished 84-78, an improvement from last season, but still five wins away from a playoff spot.
With center fielder Andruw Jones a free agent and reinforcements needed for the starting rotation, the Braves likely will have a new look for next year.
Bobby Cox will manage at least one more season and was already looking hopefully to next year on Sunday.
One constant will be the coaching staff, which was retained in full. This was the first season for Brian Snitker as third base coach, Chino Cadahia as bench coach and Perez as bullpen coach.
Sammons will get just a couple of days off before heading to the Arizona Fall League. He will play for the Peoria Javelinas, which also will feature two other top Braves prospects - shortstop Brent Lillibridge and outfielder Jordan Schafer.
"I'm looking forward to going out there and working on some more things," Sammons said. "Next spring will be important for me and I want to be as ready as I can be."
SideBar: GWINNETT MAJOR LEAGUERS
A record six players from Gwinnett County appeared in the majors this season:
Jason Bulger, Angels, relief pitcher (Brookwood)
2.84 ERA in six September games after callup
Jeff Francoeur, Braves, right fielder (Parkview)
Hit .293 with 19 homers and team-best 105 RBIs
Nick Green, Mariners, infielder (Duluth)
Hitless in seven at-bats after September callup
Jeff Keppinger, Reds, infielder (Parkview)
Hit .332 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 67 games
Brian McCann, Braves, catcher (Duluth)
All-Star batted .270 with 18 homers and 92 RBIs
Clint Sammons, Braves, catcher (Parkview)
Went 2-for-3 with a double in first start on Sunday