Braves making walk-offs a healthy habit

Braves making walk-offs a healthy habit

The look on Brooks Conrad's face as he rounded first base on Thursday, thinking he'd been robbed of a homer and then realizing he was the hero with a walk-off grand slam against the Reds, said it all for the 2010 Braves:

What is going on around here? Whatever it is, it's exciting.

With this Braves team, you might not know how it'll turn out, but it's not going to be boring. This team has taken the extreme to extremes so far this season.

One extreme: One of the most spectacular rookie debuts in recent memory by Jason Heyward on Opening Day. The other extreme: One of the team's most difficult losing stretches in recent memory through much of April.

And now this: A third consecutive walk-off victory, this one historic and as dramatic as they come, to pull back over the .500 mark for the season.

Veteran Chipper Jones has to smile and enjoy the show.

"We've had our backs against the wall quite a bit over the last couple of years. These guys have learned to play from behind," Jones said after Conrad's remarkable highlight homer. "One thing about this club, we haven't played well at times, we haven't played consistently at times, [but] we're not giving up. We play it to the bitter end.

"We've come up short a couple of times. And lo and behold, at probably the most important juncture of the season, we finally broke through and finished it. Three walk-off wins in a row. Things like that propel you to winning streaks."

How about the walk-off streak? The Braves have won 13 of their past 19 since snapping a dreadful nine-game losing streak, and the three walk-off wins have fit right in with their extreme ways.

The last-hitter heroics started on Tuesday, when Melky Cabrera's looping infield single combined with David Wright's throwing error to send home pinch-runner Brent Clevlen for a 3-2 win.

On Wednesday, Heyward came through with his second walk-off hit in his weeks-old career, this one a double down the right-field line to drive home Martin Prado.

Then on Thursday, Conrad delivered just the 23rd walk-off grand slam to overcome a three-run lead in Major League history -- and only the second in a pinch-hitting role.

Pinch him all you want, but he's not dreaming.

Granted, Conrad might have looked like it when he went from the nightmare of Laynce Nix catching the ball on top of the fence to his ecstatic sprint around the basepaths to a chaotic scrum at home plate.

"Going from 'He caught it' to winning the game with a walk-off is pretty cool," Conrad said.

The 30-year-old role player said that his day as the hero just shows what kind of club the Braves have this year.

"We love to come out there and play hard, and we love to play the game. Especially here in Atlanta. We expect to win," Conrad said. "That's the way everybody on the team thinks. You saw that today. We got down early and kind of shrugged it off and said, 'We'll take each inning one at a time and see how it ends up.' We had some good at-bats and got guys on base and gave ourselves a chance. It was character, and we like to have fun."

Said Jones: "It just goes to show you that anything can happen if you get some guys on base and put some pressure on them. Old Brooksie, I'm happy for him. There's not a better dude on this team."

John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.