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With NL East title behind them, Braves eye top record in NL
(Sports Network) - With the division title out of the way, the Atlanta Braves set their sights on securing the top record in the National League as they begin a three-game set on Monday night against the Milwaukee Brewers.
There wasn't much drama to the Braves' first NL East title since 2005 as they have held a lead of at least eight games for first place since July 24. In fact, they clinched the division crown before even posting their 5-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday as the Washington Nationals lost the opener of their doubleheader with Miami.
That didn't stop Atlanta from celebrating when Craig Kimbrel struck out Junior Lake swinging to end the game and secure his 49th save of the campaign.
Freddie Freeman homered in the rubber match of the three-game set and Andrelton had a forgettable outing with a pair of homers; forgettable because he was still caught up in the celebration.
"To be honest, I don't even remember what happened in the game," Simmons said. "I know we won the division and that is all that is on my mind right now."
Atlanta is now looking to secure home-field advantage in the NL portion of the playoffs. The Braves are 92-63, just ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals' 91-65 mark.
Mike Minor will try to keep destiny in Atlanta's hands and looks to win for the first time in five starts.
Minor is 0-2 in his last four outings and is coming off a no-decision against Washington on Tuesday. The lefty gave up three runs on three hits and four walks over six innings of his club's 6-5 setback.
The 25-year-old is a solid 13-7 on the season with a 3.19 earned run average and is 1-1 lifetime versus the Brewers with a 2.60 ERA in three starts.
Marco Estrada tries to play spoiler for Milwaukee and is unbeaten in seven games since returning from the disabled list.
The righty last lost on June 3 and was placed on the DL two days later with a strained right hamstring. He returned in early August and is 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA.
Estrada, though, has not factored into the outcome of his last three starts, including Tuesday versus the Cubs. He allowed three runs and fanned seven over seven innings.
The 30-year-old is 6-4 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts this season and 2-1 lifetime versus the Braves with a 5.01 ERA in eight meetings (3 starts).
The Brewers actually helped the Braves out on Sunday night by beating the Cardinals 6-4 and avoiding a three-game sweep.
Norichika Aoki had two hits, an RBI and three run scored, while Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Lucroy, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Gomez all drove in a run.
Wily Peralta held the Cardinals to three runs on five hits and as many walks over five-plus frames to pick up the win. Jim Henderson allowed a run in the ninth, but stranded the potential tying run on first to secure his 26th save of the season.
"I think it's great for them," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of his players. "You play the Cardinals right now, it's a playoff atmosphere."
Milwaukee snapped a three-game slide and concluded its final homestand of the season 6-4.
The Brewers have won five of their last six versus the Braves, taking two of three in Milwaukee from June 21-23. They were swept in three games in Atlanta a season ago.
09/23 10:49:06 ET
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