Marlins-Braves Preview

Positive momentum has been rare for the Atlanta Braves this
month.

Brian McCann is trying to change that.

Coming off his best offensive showing of September, McCann looks
to lead the Braves to a second consecutive win Wednesday in the
finale of their three-game series against the visiting Florida
Marlins.

Atlanta (85-64) began the month 8 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis
for the NL wild card, but that lead has dwindled to 4 1/2 due to a
4-9 stretch that includes a three-game sweep at the hands of the
Cardinals last weekend.

McCann had been batting .146 with one homer and four RBIs over
his last 13 games prior to Tuesday, including a strikeout with the
bases loaded in the ninth inning of Monday’s series opener, which
Atlanta lost 5-4 in 12.

However, he had two hits including a three-run homer in the
middle game of the series to lead the Braves over Florida (67-80)
7-1.

“That took a lot of pressure off the whole team,” second baseman
Dan Uggla said. “That was not just a three-run homer. That could be
one of the biggest homers this year.

“He’s our rock. We depend on him a lot. That’s a big load on his
shoulders.”

McCann has matched his career high with 24 homers, and his next
one will make him the first Braves catcher to reach 25 since 2003,
when Javy Lopez hit a franchise-record 43.

Randall Delgado (0-1, 3.60 ERA) could use some help from his
teammates if he’s going to convert his fifth start into his first
career victory.

The 21-year-old rookie right-hander appeared headed for a win
Friday, but Craig Kimbrel blew the save in the ninth before the
Braves fell 4-3 in 10 at St. Louis.

Delgado turned the game over to the bullpen after allowing one
run, three hits and three walks in five innings. He’s been backed
by four total runs in his four outings, while limiting opponents to
one run in two of them.

“He competed,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s
official website. “If you had to critique him really hard, 100 or
so pitches (actually 93) in five innings is a lot of work.”

The Marlins had their four-game winning streak halted Tuesday,
and Ricky Nolasco (10-10, 4.40) will try to help them rebound by
continuing his success at Turner Field.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 4.45 ERA in his last five starts
at Atlanta. He was solid there again July 31, yielding one run in 6
2-3 innings of a 3-1 win.

Nolasco allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings of a
13-4 victory at Pittsburgh on Friday. He didn’t walk a batter, and
has issued only one free pass in 18 2-3 innings over his last three
starts.

“I just want to not give up any free passes and just stay
aggressive,” Nolasco told the Marlins’ official website. “And let
those guys put the ball in play and try and get our guys back in
the dugout as soon as possible. Just try and not allow a big
inning.”

McCann has six homers in 41 career at-bats against Nolasco – the
most Atlanta’s catcher has off any pitcher as well as the most
Nolasco has allowed to any batter.