Relief corps picking up ailing mates
Braves not missing a beat despite injuries to Soriano, Moylan
ATLANTA -- When Rafael Soriano and Peter Moylan went on the disabled list, the Braves were left with a bullpen that had a combined one Major League save.
Instead of showing their inexperience, however, the remaining relievers have taken advantage of the increased opportunities and responded to the challenge.
"They've picked us up," Braves manager Bobby Cox said Tuesday before the series finale against the Nationals at Turner Field. "That's the name of the game, picking each other up, and they've sure done it.
"It would be nice to have Soriano and Moylan to go with them, but they've all done a good job."
Manny Acosta got his first save on Saturday against the Dodgers, and Blaine Boyer showed he could do the job in the eighth inning. Left-hander Will Ohman -- the bullpen's only veteran and the owner of the one previous save -- pitched well in a variety of situations, and Jorge Campillo didn't allow a run over his first seven innings.
"The success of a bullpen is a collective thing," Ohman said. "It's not about individuals, but getting the job done as a group. We've been able to do that, which makes us all feel good."
Acosta is the Braves' main option to close with Soriano out, but Ohman can also pitch the ninth inning and Boyer may be working his way into that mix.
Acosta went into Tuesday night's game against the Nationals not having given up a run in his last eight appearances. Boyer, who leads the team with three holds, hasn't been scored on in his past six games.
Boyer's run of success came after he blew a save at Colorado on April 7 by giving up a two-run homer to Matt Holliday. He credits a talk with pitching coach Roger McDowell after that game with helping him to bounce back.
"Roger told me that the team still had confidence that I could do the job," Boyer said. "That helped a lot."
Acosta and Boyer, both 26, have the power arms that bullpens crave. Ohman, 30, and Campillo, 29, can also get strikeouts when needed.
Led by the foursome, the Braves' bullpen held the Dodgers to one run in 10 1/3 innings over the weekend. Boyer pitched in all three games.
"It feels good to get the opportunity," Boyer said. "That's what everyone wants."
Moylan will likely have to undergo Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, but the Braves hope to have Soriano back as early as next week. He has pitched just four times this season.
Soriano, bothered by a sore elbow, is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday, but isn't ready yet. He played catch again on Tuesday and may return to the mound for a bullpen session in a few days.
"We hope that he can get back as soon as he can," Boyer said. "But until he does, everyone is filling in the best that we can."
"It's not about who gets the outs," Ohman said. "It's about making sure that someone does. That's what counts."
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.