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Up next: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Atlanta Braves

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What's new: Since an 0-4 start, the Braves have had the best record in the majors (23-11) despite losing two of their past three. Offense has been their forte, entering Thursday tied for third in the majors with 200 runs. CF Michael Bourn has been their cata­lyst, with 1B Freddie Freeman, LF Martin Prado and 2B Dan Uggla also contributing. The pitching is pretty good, too, with solid starters and Craig Kimbrell at the back end of a deep bullpen.

Key stat: In 12 games at the Trop, Braves 3B Chipper Jones has a .353 average, five homers and 11 RBIs, though his last visit was in 2006 and all his stats were compiled against the Devil Rays.

Connections: Braves GM Frank Wren is a St. Petersburg native and attended Northeast High and St. Petersburg College. OF Matt Diaz and INF Eric Hinske are former Rays. Bench coach Carlos Tosca grew up in the bay area and is a USF graduate. … Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and injured RHP Kyle Farns­worth played in Atlanta.

Series history: Braves lead 15-6, including 9-3 at the Trop.

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

Up next: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Atlanta Braves 05/17/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 11:02pm]
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