Orioles-Braves Preview

The Atlanta Braves appear to be playing with all the confidence

in the world. That’s really bad news for the sputtering Baltimore

Orioles, whose own assurance continues to be shaken.

Atlanta looks for its ninth straight interleague win Saturday

night against the Orioles, who may have hit rock bottom after the

series opener.

Jair Jurrjens held Baltimore to one hit – a one-out single in

the seventh inning by Adam Jones – en route to his first career

shutout, 4-0 on Friday.

“A bouncer,” Jurrjens said of Jones’ hit, shaking his head. “I

would prefer to give up a line drive off the wall.”

Regardless, Jurrjens became the NL’s first 11-game winner,

lowered his ERA to a league-best 1.89 and will merit strong

consideration to start the All-Star game later this month in

Phoenix.

“Outstanding,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It was one

of his best performances of the season so far. He’s been the most

consistent pitcher we’ve had, and (Friday) was no different.”

Jason Heyward hit his first homer since April 29 for the Braves,

who have outscored the opposition 33-12 during their eight-game run

against AL foes.

Atlanta moved a season-best 13 games over .500, but remained

four games behind NL East-leading Philadelphia after the Phillies

beat Toronto earlier Friday.

Though it’s been more than five years since he last faced

Baltimore, the Braves’ Tim Hudson (6-6, 3.51 ERA) surely won’t want

to be reminded of that outing.

The right-hander was lit up for six runs and 11 hits in 2 2-3

innings of Atlanta’s 7-4 loss at Turner Field on July 1, 2006.

Hudson had been 9-1 with a 2.00 lifetime ERA versus the Orioles

prior to that start.

However, he enters this contest having not allowed a run in his

last two starts. After surrendering two hits over eight innings and

hitting a two-run homer to help beat the Blue Jays on June 20,

Hudson scattered six hits in six innings Sunday, but didn’t get a

decision as the Braves fell 4-1 to San Diego.

Baltimore (35-44) has lost four in a row overall to fall a

season-worst nine games under .500. The Orioles’ 13 road wins are

second-fewest in the AL behind Kansas City’s 10.

“It’s frustrating,” Jones said. “We all feel good. We all go up

there with a good plan. It’s just, the execution is not coming

through right now.”

After having his start pushed back from Wednesday, Jake Arrieta

(9-4, 4.50) will face Atlanta for the first time while seeking his

fourth win in five starts.

The right-hander went at least six innings in his three previous

starts before facing Pittsburgh on June 20. Backed by a five-run

first, Arrieta gave up three runs and three hits through five as

the Orioles posted an 8-3 win.

He has been given at least five runs of support in nine of 16

starts this year.

“I really don’t know what it is, the team, they find a way to

put runs on the board when I’m on the mound,” Arrieta said. “It’s

a good feeling for me. I’m not going to argue with it.”

Braves second baseman Dan Uggla struck out four times Friday,

and is 1 for 8 with six strikeouts in his last two home games. A

.287 hitter with Florida last year, Uggla is batting .176 in

2011.