Atlanta's bullpen stretched thin

Atlanta's bullpen stretched thin

LOS ANGELES -- After winning a 17-inning game Sunday and losing a reliever to injury in the process, the Braves certainly could have benefited from an off-day Monday.

But instead, they encountered a lengthy cross-country trip and the challenge of having enough pitchers available for Monday night's game against the Dodgers. The three scoreless innings apiece provided by Buddy Carlyle and Manny Acosta played huge roles in Sunday's marathon contest against the Astros.

Acosta's effort ended when he suffered a right hamstring strain that could sideline him for three weeks or more. Carlyle's effort continued his splendid season and forced Braves manager Bobby Cox to admit the right-handed reliever has earned the right to be used in situations other than long relief.

"I'm going to have to move him up out there," Cox said of the right-hander, who has completed 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. "He's going right after [the hitters]. He puts it right where he wants all of the time and that's everything."

Carlyle was unavailable to pitch again Monday night, and after Sunday's win, Cox announced that both Acosta and fellow right-handed reliever Jeff Bennett, whose right shoulder came out of place with a throw Saturday night, were going on the disabled list. In response, the only pitcher the Braves promoted from the Minor League system was right-handed reliever Vladimir Nunez, the former Marlins closer who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2004.

Another newcomer to the Braves bullpen Tuesday could be Julian Tavarez, who has been released by both the Red Sox and Brewers this season. The 35-year-old veteran posted a 7.20 ERA and saw opponents hit .356 against him in 16 combined appearances with those two teams this season.

Tavarez would cost the Braves the prorated portion of the Major League minimum salary of $390,000. The Red Sox are still paying him his $3.85 million salary for this season. He has posted a 4.46 ERA in 750 career Major League appearances.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.