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Peterson breaks slump by clearing bases

PITTSBURGH -- When runners are on, the task at hand is to score them. It's simple and straightforward, but difficult to do. Braves second baseman Jace Peterson happens to thrive in those situations, and, even though he was mired in an extended slump recently, the 25-year-old delivered when Atlanta needed a jolt of offensive life in Saturday's 8-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh dealt with gray skies and rain all afternoon, but on the scoreboard, the Pirates looked to be in the clear with a five-run lead going into the top of the seventh.

However, with no outs in the frame, Peterson unloaded the bases with a three-run double to the right-field gap, temporarily forming a cloud of uncertainty over Saturday's result.

With the Pirates tacking on two more runs in the bottom of the frame, Peterson's drive wasn't the difference maker. But for someone who had one hit in his last 21 at-bats entering the game, the double could mean more for him going forward.

"This game is about confidence. Believe it or not, these guys live from at-bat to at-bat," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Here's a young guy that doesn't let anything else affect him. ...Hopefully this will catapult him into a nice streak."

With eight strikeouts in his previous six games, Peterson needed a favorable situation. And this year, that situation has been with runners in scoring position.

Entering Saturday, Peterson was hitting .321 and boasting a .409 OBP, two home runs and 31 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

Peterson has had particular success with bases loaded. He's now 7-for-11 with 18 RBIs with them loaded.

"You kind of put a little more grit into it," Peterson said. "When you've got runners out there, you want to get them in."

While it didn't win Atlanta the game, perhaps the double can propel Peterson out of his slump -- and subsequently help the Braves out of their now five-game losing streak.

John McGonigal is an associate reporter for
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