Resourceful Braves move closer to title in defeat of Marlins

ATLANTA (AP) -- Marcus Giles has seen the Atlanta Braves lose
their edge in the final two weeks of a season when they clinched
their division title early.

Giles says he hopes a three-game sweep of the fading Florida
Marlins, capped by Sunday's rally for a 5-3 win, shows that this
year the Braves are gaining momentum just in time for the playoffs.

"The last few weeks we had been playing poorly, but hopefully
we can ride this all the way through Halloween," Giles said after
he hit a tying two-run homer and then drove in the go-ahead run
with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly.

Atlanta (89-67) lowered its magic number for clinching the NL
East to two. The Braves remained five games ahead of Philadelphia
as they seek their 14th straight division title.

The Braves have lost in the first round of the playoffs three
straight years. Giles says that recent streak of early postseason
failures could be cured by a better finish to the regular season.

"In the last few years we've hit a bad spell right now because
we've already clinched," Giles said.

"I think if I could pick any time for us to get hot, it's right

Florida's A.J. Burnett (12-12) couldn't hold an early 3-0 lead
as his losing streak stretched to a career-worst six games.

After the game, Burnett indicated he will not re-sign with the
team after the season.

"I've got one more start here, and that's all that matters,"
Burnett said in an apparent reference to leaving the team as a free

"It's depressing around here. There's nothing positive around
here. There's nothing positive on the staff now."

Burnett was mentioned as a player who could be traded before
this year's trade deadline.

"You give up one home run, and it's a funeral. ... A positive
pat on the back is better than anything," he said. "I haven't
seen a pat on the back since April."

Asked who he was targeting with his criticism, Burnett said,
"I'm not naming names."

"Everybody gets frustrated at times," Marlins manager Jack
McKeon said. "I think sometimes you've got to look in the mirror.
He's just frustrated. We certainly don't play. None of the coaches
pitch or hit."

The Marlins have lost nine of 11 and are five games behind
Houston in the wild-card race.

With the score tied at 3, Burnett walked pinch-hitter Pete Orr
to lead off the seventh inning -- Burnett's fourth walk of the game.
Rafael Furcal then dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Catcher
Matt Treanor's throw toward first bounced up the right-field line
for an error, putting runners at second and third.

McKeon brought in Randy Messenger, who gave up Giles' fly to
center that gave the Braves a 4-3 lead. Furcal advanced to third on
the play and scored on Andruw Jones' grounder to short, pushing the
lead to 5-3.

"They seize any opening and jump on it," McKeon said of the

Burnett won seven straight starts from July 19 to Aug. 15, but
the hard-throwing right-hander was 0-5 with a 5.85 ERA in six
starts leading to Sunday's game.

Burnett gave up five runs, four earned, and six hits in six-plus
innings. He had eight strikeouts.

Blaine Boyer (4-2) recorded one out in the seventh for the win.
Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 10
chances with the Braves. Five Braves relievers gave up one hit in
four innings.

Atlanta's Jorge Sosa, who had been 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four
September starts, couldn't take advantage of his opportunity to
match John Smoltz for the team lead with 14 wins.

Sosa gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings with four
walks -- two intentional.

Sosa trailed before recording an out. Juan Pierre led off the
first inning with a triple past a diving Jones in left-center, and
Jeff Conine followed with a run-scoring single.

The Marlins pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third. Burnett led off
with a single and scored on Carlos Delgado's double to center. Mike
Lowell drove in Delgado with a double.

The Braves managed one run in the fourth when Chipper Jones
walked, moved to third on a single by Adam LaRoche and scored on
Jeff Francoeur's fly ball to the right-field wall.

Giles snapped a 2-for-22 slump with his game-tying homer off
Burnett with two outs in the fifth. Giles' 13th homer landed in the
Braves' bullpen behind the right-field wall and drove in Brian
McCann, who led off the inning with a single.

Game notes
Burnett, a career .128 hitter who carried a .123 batting
average into the game, had two hits. ... Burnett has not won a road
game since Aug. 4 at St. Louis. ... Attendance was 48,147, the
second straight sellout in the series. ... The Braves moved to 10-5
against the Marlins this season.