05/11/12 8:55 PM ET
Braves enjoy time afforded by rare respite
By Steve Overbey / Special to MLB.com
Atlanta had a break of almost 53 hours between the end of Wednesday's game and the opener of Friday's three-game set in St. Louis.
"Just relaxed for a while," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Long season and you need a break every once in a while. It was fun while it lasted -- but now it's over and done with."
Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn took the time off to catch up on the NBA playoffs. He had nice meal in downtown St. Louis on Thursday before camping himself in front on the television to watch Game 6 of the Western Conference series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets.
"I like basketball," Bourn said. "Love to watch the Lakers. Other than that, it was time to catch up on my rest."
Bourn itching to start new hitting streak
ST. LOUIS -- Michael Bourn is philosophical about his 12-game hitting streak, which came to an end with an 0-for-4 performance on Wednesday afternoon in Chicago.
"It was nice and all, but I've got a lot of games left and I'll get another one going," he said. "You've just got to start counting all over again."
Bourn, the hottest leadoff hitter in the National League, came within one game of his career best 13-game run. He is hoping to pass that total sometime this season.
"I feel like I'm on a team that's full of good hitters and I'm learning from them," Bourn said. "I ask a lot of questions and everyone's been a big help. I just process the information they give me, and it's made me a much better hitter."
Bourn had hit safely in 23 of his last 26 games entering Friday's opener against the Cardinals. He went 19-for-54 (.352) during the hitting streak.
Acquired from the Astros last July, Bourn is batting .319 with 21 runs and 11 stolen bases. He ignites an attack that is second in the league in runs scored with 166. Bourn, who has 12 multihit games this season, is second in the NL in hits (43) and batting average.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez is overjoyed with Bourn's performance to date.
"I said early in Spring Training I was looking forward to a whole year of watching Michael Bourn," Gonzalez said. "So far, I'm really, really pleased with what he brings to the table."
Bourn had reached base via hit or walk in 47 of his previous 100 trips to the plate prior to Friday's contest.
He's the same guy every single day," Gonzalez said. "No matter how he's doing, he is a professional who just loves to play the game."
The Braves have used 22 different starting lineups this season, but Bourn is the lone constant leading off and playing center field in all 32 games.
Braves honored to part of La Russa's night
ST. LOUIS -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was overjoyed when he found out that the St. Louis Cardinals would be retiring the uniform of former manager Tony La Russa in a ceremony prior to Friday's opener at Busch Stadium.
"I'm so happy that we are here for this," Gonzalez said. "He's great guy and I learned a lot from him."
Gonzalez said during last season, his first as Braves' manager, he sought out La Russa for advice.
"He treated me like I had been in the game for years, like I was [former Braves manager] Bobby Cox," Gonzalez noted. "I would watch him and pay attention to what he would do and why he would do it. He was not afraid to push the envelope every game, every inning. He would roll the dice where most guys wouldn't."
La Russa's No. 10 became the 12th number retired by the Cardinals. He posted 2,728 wins, third all time behind John McGraw (2,763) and Connie Mack (3,731).
Chipper Jones was also pleased to able to watch the pregame ceremony. The future Hall of Famer is well aware of La Russa's impact on the game.
"You can't do what he's done without being great at what you do," Jones said. "I certainly have a lot of respect for him and everything he's accomplished in his career. He's going to go down as one of the two or three best managers of all time."
Gonzalez made sure his players paid full attention to the ceremony.
"Who wouldn't want to be a part of something special like that?" Jones said. "I try to never miss occasions such as this."
La Russa announced his retirement in October, after leading St. Louis to its 11th World Series championship.
Gwinnett gets walk-off homer from Gartrell
ST. LOUIS -- Outfielder Stefan Gartrell blasted a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to lead Triple-A Gwinnett to a 5-3 win over Buffalo on Thursday. Starting pitcher Todd Redmond allowed just one run and struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings.
Outfielder Jose Constanza had two hits and two stolen bases in helping the first-place Braves improve to 20-13.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Gary Moran allowed just one earned run in five innings as Double-A Mississippi of the Southern League dropped a 4-3, 10-inning decision to Pensacola on Thursday. Moran, a former pitcher for the River City Rascals of the Independent Frontier League, struck out six.
Outfielder/catcher Evan Gattis ranks second in all of Minor League baseball with 13 home runs. Gattis, recently promoted to Mississippi, leads the team in home runs with four, despite only 10 games as the Double-A level.
Chipper Jones received a 45-second standing ovation from the crowd at Busch Stadium before coming to the plate in the top of the first inning of Friday's game. Jones, who announced that this will be his last season, stepped out of the batter's box and acknowledged the crowd with a tip of his helmet.
St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina called time and went out to the mound in order to let Jones enjoy the moment. Jones walked on a 3-2 pitch from lefty Jaime Garcia.
Atlanta is 0-7 over the past two seasons in St. Louis and has been outscored 39-20.
The Braves carried a 19-9 record over their last 28 games entering Friday's opener against the Cardinals.
Steve Overbey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.