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After long layoff, Kimbrel gets in some work

ST. LOUIS -- After nearly a week off, Craig Kimbrel tossed a scoreless eighth inning in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Cardinals, striking out one batter.

Kimbrel, the Braves' closer, hadn't seen action in six days. A combination of situation and non-save opportunities created the break, but manager Fredi Gonzalez didn't want Kimbrel to get rusty.

"He's going to pitch," Gonzalez said before Saturday's game. "Six days today and we've got to get him in the game today. Hopefully, it is a save situation. Hopefully, we score 100 runs and give him an inning, but we've got to get him in the game."

Kimbrel's last appearance was May 10 when he picked up his 10th save of the season against the Cubs. Kimbrel stuck out two and walked one in the outing.

The next night, David Carpenter picked up the save as the Braves completed the sweep against Chicago. Gonzalez wanted to give Kimbrel that night off because he had pitched in back-to-back games.

Since then, a save situation hasn't presented itself in the San Francisco series or against the Cardinals on Friday.

"He throws a bullpen, he throws sides every once in a while, but there comes a time when you've got to get him in a game whether it is a save situation or where there isn't a save situation," Gonzalez said. "Not only him, but any pitcher. You don't want him to go a bunch of days without pitching."

Kimbrel's 149 career saves puts him at second all-time for the Braves. He just needs five more to tie John Smoltz's club record of 154.

Joe Harris is a contributor to
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