Braves quotes after Friday’s win against the Cubs

** FREDI GONZALEZ

On the win

“It wasn’t an easy one today by any stretch of the imagination. The Cubs were busting their butts. They didn’t roll over by any means. We’ve got to come back tomorrow prepared to battle those guys again.”

On the two-out hits in the ninth

“I thought the Simmons (double) in the ninth inning was big to add on some runs. We had a chance to add on some runs early in the game. We had some situations where we could have, and Mac didn’t do it, he popped up (with runners at) second and third. But this is how good this guy is, he comes back later on in the ninth inning facing a pretty tough right-hander, Kevin Gregg, and gets a base hit that ultimately was the game winner.

“One through eight in our lineup can, if you make a mistake, run you out of the ballpark. We’ve seen our lineup click for a long time at some points during the year. It was good to get this one today.”

On Heyward’s 10-pitch at-bat to start game

“That was great. We couldn’t have scripted for him any better, other than obviously get a couple of hits. But those will come. I think him going out there energized the club a little bit. We’ll get him maybe six or seven more games and rest him before we go into the postseason.”

On McCann being only current active Brave on the 2005 division-title team

“Hopefully we get him another one. And also us, to win the division … but we’ve still got some games left.”

On waiting to see if Nats lose tonight, which would give Braves the division title

“It’s weird, just because play a day game and they’re one our behind and play a night game. But I think everybody’s going to be watching it, maybe some of the guys will even stay here to watch the Nationals and see what they do.”

**JASON HEYWARD

On his game

“Good overall day. Swung at the strikes. Timing’s going to come. I was happy to draw a walk right there; that’s what can happen when I get on base in front of Justin. Justin works his at-bat, both of us on for one of the best three-hole hitters in the game right now.”

How’d you feel, energy there?

(laughs) “It wasn’t hard to get up for that game. Lot of fun. Had a blast. Glad we could win today.”

On what got the Braves to this point

“A group effort. As a whole, a group effort. Somebody stepped in every time. Every time somebody went down, somebody stepped in. There’s something to be said for that, because that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes holes are never filled in seasons and you miss people. Guys go down and you don’t get to replace them, you don’t have that mindset that everything’s going to be all right.”

“Personally, I feel like I grew up some. And that’s what you want to do every year, especially when you start (a major league career) at 20 years old. Like to continue to grow, continue to progress. Starting from where I started, to really playing a big part in this team and the success we had down the stretch, it’s been nice.”

On Freeman’s 103 RBIs, another big homer today

“I’m not surprised, not by any means. Not every team has guys like that who can play the defense for you, that can go get the big hit, that want to be in that RBI situation every time. Especially with two outs. I’m really happy for him. First 100-RBI season – good for him, and really good for us, obviously.”

**CRAIG KIMBREL

“Ever since that last game last year, our goal has been to win the division and not have to worry about that one-game play-in. Looks like we’re going to do that, maybe tonight or tomorrow. I’m really excited. But we’re actually still in the race, is the way we’re looking at it. We’ve still got a lot of games to win. Now’s not the time to relax, now’s the time to turn it up. So that’s what we plan on doing.”

Fitting that McCann got the two-out game-winning RBI in ninth?

“Perfect. It seems like everybody stepped up this year. I mean, if one guy didn’t, the next guy did. It seems like it’s been going like that all year long, and hopefully it keeps going.”

On Heyward back in lineup

“It was awesome. We didn’t know. We’ve been asking for a while, since he hit (batting practice) in D.C., when he was going to get back out there. He didn’t tell anybody until they wrote it on the board today. It’s exciting. Him at the leadoff spot really makes our offense roll. Glad to have him back.”

**FREDDIE FREEMAN

On building early lead, his 3-run homer

“It’s been kind of a struggle in the first couple of innings to get some hits. Chris got us going, we got on the board pretty early right there. Jason and Justin with some big walks, and then he left one over the middle and I was able to get it out of here. We had to battle because they kept coming back on us. Ball was flying today. We were able to put a big number up at the end.”

On all the work, team overcoming adversity this season

“We had the injury bug this year. A lot of starting eight guys went down, and we had a big step-up from our guys on the bench. They came through. Gatty was huge this year, Schafer, Ramiro (Pena), who we lost.”

On Heyward’s return

“It’s huge for us, just to see him walk up to the dish. It’s definitely a nice feeling seeing him up there. He’s an unbelievable baseball player, and it’s nice to have him back.”

**CHRIS JOHNSON

On winning, being on verge of division title

“It’s amazing. This is why we play baseball. Seriously, right now. Hanging out, watching the game, getting ready to go nuts. I’m excited.”

On team overcoming adversity

“We’ve overcome a lot. There’s no quit in this team, no matter what happens. It really stinks having some of the guys go down that we’ve had go down. But there’s a lot of guys that have stepped up, too.”

On Heyward returning

“Amazing. Nobody knew. We had heard the reports that he was shooting for Monday. He kept it quiet and when they wrote the lineup on the whiteboard and his name went up first, guys went nuts. It’s good to have him back.”

**BRIAN McCANN

On his big two-out hit in ninth

“I was glad to get a pitch to handle, and not miss it. I got through the baseball and good things happen.”

On waiting to see if Nationals lost

“Yeah. We were kind of wishing (clinching) would happen on the field, but we’ll wait around here and kind of see the feel for the (Marlins-Nats) game, and then go from there.”

**PAUL MAHOLM

On how he felt today

“Early on it was good. I made the bad pitches for the home runs. It just seemed like later in the game the pitches weren’t the same. I don’t know if that was a factor of not pitching in 12 days. Early on I had a lot better stuff than I had the last couple of times. I made it through, no issues, so now I’m looking forward to doing my normal routine and getting ready for whenever my next start is.

“But the main is obviously we won, and hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate and enjoy this.”

On the two homers he allowed on a day with the wind blowing out

“You could probably see that I didn’t turn and look at either home run, because as soon as he hit it, wind’s blowing out, it’s an obvious thing.”

“You’ve got to play the conditions and make pitches. For the most part I kept the ball on the ground, but those couple got up in the air and they made a comeback. But the guys grinded out the ninth and got us the win.”

**EVAN GATTIS

On McCann starting the two-hit parade in ninth

“It was awesome. It was a good team win, after the last win in Washington. I was kidding, I don’t know who I told, but I said, ah, it feels like a team again. Getting contributions from everybody. Good fun.”

McCann on the 2005 team

“He’s been here before. We’ve got some veteran guys that can carry us.”

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