The Atlanta Braves’ dismal losing streak finally has come to an end, but their struggles at the plate have not.
That could be an issue against Adam Wainwright, who takes the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals in Wednesday night’s series finale in Atlanta.
The Braves (18-14) were outscored 37-15 during a seven-game losing streak, and they scored just enough Tuesday to earn a 2-1 win over the Cardinals (17-17).
Justin Upton homered before scoring on Chris Johnson’s RBI single in the eighth – Atlanta’s only hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position. Upton finished 2 for 4 after going 3 for 23 with 12 strikeouts in six games during the losing streak.
The Braves’ 104 runs rank as the second-worst total in the majors ahead of San Diego.
”That felt good,” Johnson said. ”It’s big. We weren’t panicking too much. We were relaxed, even though we lost seven in a row.”
Upton is 0 for 13 with four strikeouts lifetime against Wainwright (5-2, 2.16 ERA), who pitched at least seven innings while allowing six combined runs in his first six starts.
Wainwright matched that total Friday in a 6-5 loss to the Chicago Cubs, though, also giving up 10 hits through five. The right-hander entered that outing with a 25-inning scoreless streak that was snapped with a two-run single just three batters into the game.
”There were certain pitches I didn’t have good command over,” Wainwright said. ”My curveball was kind of sporadic in the zone and out of the zone, which is pretty rare for me.
"It’s a funny game. (Friday) was not my day. I accept that and take responsibility and move on.”
Wainwright has fared well against Atlanta in his career, going 7-2 with a 2.98 ERA in nine starts. He gave up one run and struck out nine in a complete-game, 3-1 win over the Braves the last time he faced them Aug. 23.
St. Louis, though, has lost four of the last five meetings in Atlanta and five of seven on the road overall. Matt Holliday had two of the Cardinals’ six hits Tuesday, including an RBI single that scored Matt Carpenter in the sixth.
Carpenter is 4 for 8 with a homer and two doubles off Mike Minor, who will take the mound for the Braves looking to build on an effective outing after a long layoff.
Minor made his season debut Friday after recovering from a urinary tract procedure in December, allowing two runs over six innings of a 2-1 loss to the Giants. Both runs he allowed came via solo homers, and he’s allowed nine long balls while going 0-5 with a 4.00 ERA over his last seven regular-season starts.
"I felt really satisfied other than we tie the ballgame up and then I go back out and give up a solo shot and we lose the game by one," Minor said. "Other than that, I came out of the game with positive notes and feeling good about my outing. Hopefully, it will get better from there and we can keep it rolling."
The left-hander has allowed six home runs in four starts against the Cardinals, though he’s given up one run in seven innings in each of the last two – both wins.