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Braves anxious to return home
Atlanta (60-80) vs. Washington (54-86), Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
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MIAMI -- Call the Braves' next stint in Atlanta a much-welcomed trip back home.
After a 1-5 road trip on which they were outscored, 47-35, a nice long homestand may be just what the club needs to finish off the season.
The bullpen registered four of the five losses in the two three-game sets against National League East-rivals Washington and Florida, and it also witnessed Atlanta reach a number in the loss column it hasn't accomplished in Bobby Cox's tenure with the Braves.
Now at 20 games under .500, a Cox-led team has never been that far away from having an even record since 1979, when the club was 66-94 in Cox's second year as manager. The Braves finished off 1990 at 65-97, but Cox took over the managerial job midway through the season and the club was never 20 games under .500 with him at the helm.
"I'm sure he's never had his top four pitchers go down and his two best relievers," said catcher Brian McCann, who hit .368 (7-for-19) on the road trip. "Since Spring Training, we've had like seven injuries to key players. All we can do at this point is just try to play the best we can."
The Braves will play 13 of their next 16 games at Turner Field before finishing off the season on a six-game road trip against the Phillies and Astros.
"This has been a very tough year," said Jorge Campillo, Wednesday's starter for Atlanta in its 5-3 loss. "I think all the injuries have really affected us, but I don't think you can really look back at this point. All we can do is prepare ourselves to finish strong.
"It's nice to get back home to try to win as many games as possible and finish the year off right."
One player who looks to be in fine form to finish off the year right is Kelly Johnson, who went 4-for-5 with four RBIs in a wild 16-14 win Tuesday and followed with a 2-for-3, two-RBI day Wednesday. Over his past nine games, the Braves' 26-year-old second baseman is batting .361 (13-for-36).
"I'm seeing the ball good, and it's just one of those things that it feels really good to be up there, because it seems like you're always getting a good pitch to hit," Johnson said. "But I'm not going to try to explain anything as to why I'm having a good game or anything. I know that I can look awful one day and people can just turn around and say, 'Hey, what's different?'
"All I can hope for is to finish strong so I can go into the offseason feeling good."
The rest of his teammates share the same notion.

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