Atlanta Braves: The week ahead

The Atlanta Braves take on the Chicago Cubs and the Philadelphia Phillies this week.

Monday: Chicago at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m. (SportSouth); Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 5.09 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (9-4, 3.59)

Tuesday: Chicago at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m. (SportSouth); Chris Volstad (0-6, 7.46) vs. Jair Jurrjens (1-2, 6.07)

Wednesday: Chicago at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m. (SportSouth); Paul Malhom (5-6, 4.84) vs. Randall Delgado (4-8, 4.52)

Thursday: Chicago at Atlanta, 7:10 p.m. (SportSouth); Matt Garza (4-6, 4.01) vs. Mike Minor (4-6, 6.20)

Friday: Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. (FOX Sports South, Peachtree TV); Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.87) vs. Cole Hamels (10-4, 3.08)

Saturday: Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:15 p.m. (FOX); Hanson vs. Joe Blanton (7-7, 4.85)

Sunday: Atlanta at Philadelphia, 1:35 p.m. (FOX Sports South, TBS); Jurrjens vs. Vance Worley (4-4, 2.92)

Look out for

The schedule gets considerably easier for the Braves, starting tonight. After playing teams at or over .500 for 46 consecutive games, the Braves play the Cubs, who are last in the NL Central, and the Phillies, who are last in the NL East. At 29-49, the Cubs have the worst record in baseball. The Phillies have lost five straight games and are at 36-45. The Braves went 22-24 against in those games. … The Braves signed former major league pitcher Ben Sheets on Sunday and assigned him to Double-A Mississippi. Sheets, a four-time all-star who struck out 18 Braves on May 16, 2004, is 90-92 in his career and hasn’t pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2010. … Jeff Samardzija, who will start against the Braves on Monday night, is 0-4 with a 12.27 ERA in his past four starts.

Who’s hot

Jason Heyward hit .348 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in June, and continued his hot streak into July. He went 2-for-5 on Sunday and has raised his average from .234 to .274 in the past month. Heyward was the NL Player of the Week last week and will be in the running for the player of the month. … Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons continues to impress. He has hit in eight of his past nine games and is hitting .333 with three home runs and 14 RBIs after one month in the majors. He’s had 10 multi-hit games, including three, three-hit games. … Chipper Jones has an eight-game hitting streak. He’s 10 for his past 28 (.357). … Eric O’Flaherty seems to have worked out the issues he had earlier this season. He hasn’t allowed a run in his past seven appearances, covering 5 2/3 innings, and his ERA is at a season-low 3.18. … Tommy Hanson was 4-0 with a 3.13 ERA in five starts in June.

Who’s not

Jonny Venters can’t get over the hump. He had a 5 1/3-inning scoreless snapped when he allowed a run on June 27. He then gave up two runs in 1/3 of an inning in the Braves’ 8-4 loss to the Nationals on Sunday, pushing his ERA to 4.40. Venters has allowed 15 earned runs this year after giving up only 18 in 2011. … The league hit .306 against Kris Medlen in June. … Dan Uggla continues to struggle. Despite being selected to start for the NL All-Star team, his average has fallen from .276 on June 5 to .232 after he went 0-for-3 on Sunday. He has one hit in his past 17 at-bats and hit .160 in June.


Atlanta: Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) will be out until next summer.

Chicago: P Ryan Dempster (shoulder) and 3B Ian Stewart (wrist) are on the 15-day DL.

Philadelphia: P Roy Halladay (shoulder), 1B Ryan Howard (Achilles) and OF Laynce Nix (calf) are on the 15-day DL.

On the farm

Felix Pie drove in Tyler Pastornicky with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to help Triple-A Gwinnett snap a franchise-record 15-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over Charlotte on Sunday. Pastornicky is hitting .262 with 16 RBIs in 31 games for Gwinnett. …

Sheets is scheduled to start and throw five innings or 75 pitches for Double-A Mississippi on Wednesday. The Braves expect him to make a few minor league starts before being promoted to the majors. … Catcher Christian Bethancourt has hit in eight of his past 10 games and is hitting .287 in that span. … Braves reliever Peter Moylan, who is coming back from shoulder surgery, started and pitched a scoreless inning for the Gulf Coast League Braves on Saturday. He’s scheduled for more appearances as he works his way back to the majors.