Thu, Aug 02, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Braves make big trades to prepare for playoff run

AFP , ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Newly acquired Atlanta Braves first base-man Mark Teixeira waves to the crowd after a game against the Houston Astros on Tuesday at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Braves acquired Teixeira in a trade with the Texas Rangers.

PHOTO: AP

The Atlanta Braves, fighting for a National League playoff berth, made major moves on Tuesday at the Major League Baseball trade deadline to bolster themselves for a title run.

The Braves obtained Kansas City Royals closer Octavio Dotel for righthander Kyle Davies and finalized a deal to sign highly prized first baseman Mark Teixeira from Texas, along with southpaw relief pitcher Ron Mahay.

Atlanta also obtained southpaw pitcher Royce Ring from San Diego in exchange for southpaws Wil Ledezma and Will Startup.

"It makes us a World Series favorite, obviously, come on," Braves righthanded pitcher Tim Hudson said.

Dotel is 2-1 with 11 saves and a 3.91 earned-run average in 24 appearances this season and will bolster a bullpen of relievers betrayed at times by inconsistent efforts from closer Bob Wickman and key set-up man Rafael Soriano.

Teixeira, a 27-year-old switch-hitter, is batting .297 with 13 home runs and 49 runs batted in over 78 games. He was sidelined by a strained left quadriceps muscle from June 9 to July 8, ending a run of 507 consecutive games played.

"It's good for us," Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria said. "I always thought if you can hit, you're going to the postseason. If you have a good hitting team, you have a chance to win."

The Braves, 55-51, are 4.5 games behind the pace-setting New York Mets and 1.5 games behind Philadelphia in a three-team fight for the National League East division crown.

They trail Arizona by 2.5 games for the wild-card playoff berth going to the best second-place club.

The Braves sent Texas catcher and first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia and four developmental league players to land Teixeira, who is eligible for contract arbitration after this season.

Teixeira, who has a five-year career average of .283 with 153 homers and 499 runs batted in, will add punch to a lineup lacking power from first basemen.

"It will be a better lineup, a more dangerous lineup," Renteria said. "I think we needed a good hitter like him."

Another major deal among several expected at the deadline was to send Texas relief ace Eric Gagne to the Boston Red Sox. After missing much of the past two years with injuries, Gagne has 16 saves in 17 chances and a 2.16 ERA this year.

"We're just trying to make the club better for the long haul," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.

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