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Braves remain patient amid power shortage

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DETROIT -- Through this season's first two weeks, the Braves masked their offensive struggles with an abundance of home runs. But over the course of the past week, they have experienced a power shortage that has depleted their early season optimism.

While winning 13 of their first 15 games, the Braves hit .257, tallied 29 home runs, struck out once every 4.4 plate appearances and averaged 4.9 runs per game. In the process of losing five of the previous seven games played entering Saturday, they had batted .223, collected six home runs, struck out once every 3.3 plate appearances and averaged 3.1 runs per game.

The recent frequency of strikeouts increased as the Braves struck out a season-high 18 times against the Tigers in Friday's 10-0 loss. This marked the ninth time since 1921 that they struck out this many times in a game. The franchise record during this span is 19, a total that has been reached three times.

"It's still April," Braves center fielder B.J. Upton said. "At some point, you're going to have to stop saying that, but that's the reality of it. There is a lot of baseball left to be played."

The fact that the Braves entered Saturday leading the National League in strikeouts (203) and home runs (35) was hardly a surprise. Long before the season started, it was assumed that this would be a team that would go deep and swing and miss with great frequency.

Instead of continuing to tinker with the lineup, the Braves entered Saturday afternoon's game with essentially the same one they used on Friday night, the only difference being that Jordan Schafer batted ninth and played right field in place of Reed Johnson.

Gonzalez batted Dan Uggla second despite the fact the second baseman struck out in each of his four at-bats after being moved into that spot for the first time on Friday night.

"You look at every team, there is always one or two guys who are still struggling a little bit," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You've got to be patient. You've got to keep running them out there and support your players."

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

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