Walden dominant; silent treatment for hot-hitting Schafer

Atlanta Braves' Jordan Schafer makes a diving catch on a ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers' Jeff Bianchi during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, June 23, 2013.
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Atlanta Braves' Jordan Schafer makes a diving catch on a ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers' Jeff Bianchi during the sixth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, June 23, 2013.

Credit: Morry Gash / AP

Credit: Morry Gash / AP

After season-ending elbow injuries to Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, nobody has come up bigger getting the ball to Braves closer Craig Kimbrel than Jordan Walden.

Walden entered the game Sunday in a bases loaded jam and got Juan Francisco to pop-out on his second pitch to preserve a 7-4 win over the Brewers. He needed only nine more pitches to get through a perfect eighth inning.

Since returning from the disabled list on May 29, Walden has made 10 straight scoreless appearances. He’s walked only one batter and struck out 10 in 9 1/3 innings. He has said his shoulder feels better and he’s showing it, consistently hitting 97 mph on the radar gun.

“He is a big piece for us,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who preferred not to Walden for more than one inning but had to after Cory Gearrin walked two batters. “When he’s healthy, he’s a guy that’s got the experience. He’s done it, the back end of games, when he was with Anaheim, so you feel comfortable when he comes into games.”

Silent treatment

Jordan Schafer, at age 26, is no rookie but he gets treated like one by his fun-loving Braves teammates. They gave Schafer the silent treatment in the Braves dugout Sunday after Schafer hit his third home run of the season in the fourth inning as part of his four-hit day.

“They always like to pick on me,” Schafer said, smiling. “I guess I’m an easy target.”

Schafer said he came up into the visiting clubhouse at Miller Park after his home run and waited a while. He said his teammates laughed when he walked back out and joined them in the dugout.

“Ah he’s just one of those guys we love to pick on a little bit because he’s a funny dude,” second baseman Dan Uggla said. “Why not?”

Gonzalez said his teammates treat him like a little brother.

“He’s like the little brother that everybody picks on,” Gonzalez said. “The little guy that hangs out with older players. But he can take it. He’s funny.”