Braves look to complete sweep of Pirates

Perhaps the run-starved Pittsburgh Pirates were just what the Atlanta Braves needed to get revved up again.

The Braves (70-55), first in the National League East, arrived at PNC Park seeming a bit vulnerable after being swept in four games by Colorado. But Wednesday they will go for a sweep of the three-game series in Pittsburgh.

Atlanta slipped past the Pirates 1-0 Monday, then blew past them 6-1 Tuesday behind eight scoreless, four-hit innings from Kevin Gausman and two two-run homers from shortstop Dansby Swanson.

“Just trying to help us win,” Swanson told Fox Sports: Braves.

Gausman has won three straight starts after a loss since being acquired by the Braves.

“This is a fun team to play for, especially right now,” he said. “We’re playing well, and it’s a fun place to come to work every day.”

The Pirates (63-64), meanwhile, fell below .500 again and remained nine games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central. Pittsburgh is seeing a shot at a wild-card spot slipping away, and has been miserable offensively while wasting several strong pitching performances.

Pittsburgh has scored six runs in its past six games combined, and that includes three of four losses by shutout in that span.

“It definitely gets tough when a week goes by without us swinging the bat the way we know we can,” Pirates first baseman Josh Bell said. “We’re just hoping to flip that switch and get hot again.”

Manager Clint Hurdle didn’t sound as if he had any answers.

“When you start talking about change, that’s very vague,” he said. “Your personnel is your personnel. Can we adjust the lineup, look at some different things? We’ve talked about it.

“It’s been hard. These guys are battling. They’ve been doing some different things to try and change up some things. … We’re not getting the results we want.”

The Pirates made a couple minor moves Tuesday. They recalled right-hander Clay Holmes (who gave up a run in relief Tuesday night) from Triple-A Indianapolis, optioned outfielder Jordan Luplow to Indianapolis and outrighted right-hander Casey Sadler to Indianapolis.

The Braves recalled outfielder Michael Reed from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned right-hander Bryse Wilson to Gwinnett after he was the winner Monday in his major league debut.

Atlanta might get closer A.J. Minter (back tightness) back as soon as Wednesday, but the status of catcher Kurt Suzuki is unclear after he left Tuesday’s game. He was hit by a pitch in the left elbow and will have a CT scan Wednesday.

In the series finale Wednesday, Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (8-7, 4.24 ERA) is scheduled to start against Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams (10-9, 3.53).

Williams has been stingy as a bear with a honeycomb lately, giving up just three runs over his past six starts. That hasn’t always translated to a win, however. In his last outing, Friday against the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh suffered a 1-0 loss, one in which the Pirates tied a club record by hitting into seven double plays.

“Baseball is weird, man,” said Williams, who gave up that run on a solo homer, plus three other hits in seven innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. “It was tough.”

Williams is 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two career appearances, including one start, against Atlanta.

Teheran has also had some tough-luck starts lately. He has allowed six runs with 19 strikeouts and eight walks over his past three outings without a decision.

Thursday, Atlanta blew a ninth-inning lead in a 5-3 loss to Colorado after Teheran held the Rockies to two runs and three hits in seven innings, his longest outing since May 30. Teheran even had a two-out RBI base hit.

“I was just really pleased with the pitching performance,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He got it going. … We can’t seem to get him a three- or four-run lead.”

Teheran is 3-1 lifetime with a 2.67 ERA in nine games, eight of them starts, against Pittsburgh. In a quirky stat, his seven hit batsmen against Atlanta are his most against any team.