9/20/2013 6:56 P.M. ET
Motivated Uggla draws third consecutive start
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Dan Uggla was obviously not happy when he was benched last week. But it appears the veteran second baseman now has another opportunity to prove himself before the Braves enter the postseason.
Uggla made his third consecutive start at second base in Friday afternoon's game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He had been out of the starting lineup in seven of the previous eight games before playing the entirety of the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Nationals.
Seemingly motivated by the benching, Uggla recorded a hit in each of the three games played against the Nationals this week. His leadoff home run sparked the three-run sixth inning that proved decisive in Wednesday night's win in Washington.
"I was feeling good before [manager Fredi Gonzalez] decided to sit me," Uggla said. "I've just got to keep working and wait for him to give me another opportunity. I'm done working. I've done all the work I can. I'm just going to be me and keep going to way I've been going."
This has been a trying season for Uggla, who was hitting .186 with 21 homers and a .696 OPS in the 112 games he played before undergoing LASIK eye surgery on Aug. 16. He was benched after batting .133 (4-for-30) with nine strikeouts and a respectable .366 on-base percentage in the first 11 games he played after the procedure.
"You always think of the team," Gonzalez said. "Every decision you make is about the team. It's not about an individual guy. You want guys to be upset. Not everybody is going to understand. But hopefully he can stay on a roll and keep going."
Hoping to party, Braves watch Nats at Wrigley
CHICAGO -- After putting themselves on the cusp of a division title with a 9-5 win over the Cubs on Friday afternoon, Braves players, coaches and front-office personnel decided to stay at Wrigley Field -- or at least within the vicinity -- to watch the Marlins and Nationals play.
If the Marlins beat the Nationals, the Braves will clinch the National League East. A Nationals victory would simply force the Braves to wait at least one more day to celebrate their first division title since 2005.
With the magic number at one, the Braves will win the division with one more victory or one Nationals loss.
The Braves are hoping for the opportunity to pop champagne bottles and celebrate before leaving Wrigley Field tonight.
"This is why we play the game," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "Hanging out, watching the game and getting ready to go nuts. I'm excited."
The Cubs have agreed to keep one of the stadium's restaurants open so the Braves and their family members can watch the game away from the small confines of the visitor's clubhouse.
• Brandon Beachy, who has been sidelined with right elbow inflammation since Aug. 20, has still not been cleared to begin throwing off a mound. Over the past week, it has been assumed Beachy would not pitch again during the regular season. But manager Fredi Gonzalez said there is a chance Beachy could be given a chance to get some peace of mind by throwing in an instructional league game at some point.
• Gonzalez said he and pitching coach Roger McDowell have spoken to Alex Wood about the fiery reaction he had toward CB Bucknor after issuing a bases-loaded walk to Jayson Werth during Wednesday's win over the Nationals. The spirited exchange seemed to give the Braves a much-needed spark. But the club certainly does not want the usually calm and composed rookie pitcher to gain a bad reputation among umpires.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.