Impressive pitching has the Los Angeles Dodgers on the cusp of their longest single-season winning streak over the Atlanta Braves in 26 years.
Dan Haren will try to make his contribution in order to continue putting his recent rough stretch behind him.
After winning for the first time in over five weeks, Haren attempts to build on one of his best performances of the season Tuesday night against the Braves.
Los Angeles (68-52) has won all four meetings with Atlanta (60-58) this year, allowing nine runs and posting a 2.19 ERA. The Dodgers won five straight matchups from 1990-91, but haven’t put together a similar single-season run since taking the first six of 1988 as NL West rivals.
Kevin Correia got them closer to matching that streak by outpitching All-Star Julio Teheran in his Dodgers debut Monday. He yielded one run in six innings to earn a 6-2 win at Turner Field, two days after being acquired in a trade from Minnesota.
Now, Haren (9-9, 4.57 ERA) gets his turn, and he was tremendous in Wednesday’s 2-1 road victory over the Los Angeles Angels. The right-hander retired the first 16 batters before allowing one run and three hits in 7 1-3 innings. That was a major relief after he lost five straight starts with a 10.03 ERA.
"I’ve just been trying to have a perfect inning," Haren told MLB’s official website. "I told someone in the outfield, I was just going to do a George Costanza and whatever my instincts are, do the opposite."
That "Seinfeld" mentality wasn’t necessary in his last two starts against the Braves, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA while with Washington. He allowed one run in eight innings in a 2-1 win in his most recent visit to Atlanta on May 2.
The Dodgers, who lead the West by five games over second-place San Francisco, are also getting strong production from Adrian Gonzalez. The first baseman is hitting .357 in 23 games since the All-Star break, batting .414 while getting 16 of his 20 RBIs in 15 road games over that stretch.
Gonzalez is 7 for 18 with three doubles while plating four runs against the Braves this year after getting two hits and one RBI on Monday.
While Los Angeles is trying to pad its division lead, Atlanta is four games back of NL East-leading Washington after losing 10 of 12 games, a stretch that started by being swept in a three-game road set by the Dodgers last month.
Turning to Mike Minor (4-7, 5.42) may not help since his ERA and 1.65 homers allowed per nine innings are among the highest in baseball for any pitcher with at least 98 innings.
The left-hander’s struggles, combined with a pair of off days for Atlanta, were reason enough for the Braves to skip his last start.
"Minor was good with it," Gonzalez told MLB’s official website. "He understood completely."
Minor’s last four starts haven’t inspired much confidence, going 2-2 with an 8.71 ERA. That includes surrendering five runs and two homers in five innings of a 10-1 loss at San Diego on Aug. 1.
He’s 1-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers, compiling a 1.89 ERA in three home meetings. However, he’s allowed Gonzalez to go 3 for 5 with a homer.