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National League West

Like last year's Twins, young Braves ahead of schedule

On the morning of June 18 two years ago, the Atlanta Braves were 21-46. Now they're atop the NL East.

Atlanta has turned its stocked farm system into a major league contender faster than expected, and after Sunday's 4-1 win over San Diego, the Braves lead second-place Washington by 3 1/2 games. At 42-29, they're even with Milwaukee for the National League's best record and look poised to be a factor in what should be an entertaining race for that league's five postseason spots.

After three straight seasons with at least 90 losses, Atlanta is making a jump similar to what Minnesota did a season ago, when the Twins improved from 59 wins to 85 and earned a wild card.

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