Braves-Red Sox Preview

Jake Peavy’s recent struggles have mirrored those of the Boston Red Sox.

With the team’s fortunes changing, Peavy hopes the same will happen for him.

The right-hander looks to put an ugly three-start stretch behind him and give the host Red Sox a sweep of their four games against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

Boston (23-29) has righted the ship after dropping 10 in a row, its longest losing streak in 20 years, by handling the Braves this week – twice at Turner Field before the teams moved to Fenway Park for the final two meetings. The Red Sox’s three straight wins are a season best.

Strong back-to-back starting pitching performances have keyed the past two victories, with Jon Lester contributing six innings of three-run ball to earn a 6-3 win Tuesday and John Lackey throwing 6 1-3 and striking out nine with no walks in a 4-0 victory Wednesday.

”We’re not looking too far ahead,” said Lackey, who led Boston to its fifth straight win over Atlanta and 17th in 22 meetings. ”You can’t make up 10 games in one day. You’ve just got to keep grinding at it.”

Red Sox starters posted a 6.18 ERA during the skid.

Lackey’s performance, ”on the heels of what we’ve come off of (was) much needed,” manager John Farrell said. ”When you look at the last two nights, both John Lackey and Jon Lester have done an excellent job of getting deep in the game.”

Two of the 10 losses came with Peavy (1-2, 4.65 ERA) on the mound, and he has gone 0-1 with an 8.82 ERA in his past three outings.

Peavy gave up five runs in six innings of a 6-5, 15-inning road loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday. He was spotted a 5-0 lead before throwing a pitch but allowed the Rays to pull even by the fifth.

Peavy is 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in eight career starts against the Braves. He’s won his last two matchups with them, most recently going six innings and allowing four runs – two earned – in 10-6 victory July 20, 2013 for the Chicago White Sox.

Atlanta (28-24), which came into this series with six wins in eight contests but has seen its NL East lead cut to a half-game, will try to change its fortunes against the Red Sox by handing the ball to Mike Minor (2-3, 3.90).

The left-hander gave up three runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-1 home loss to Colorado on Saturday. Minor has allowed three or fewer runs in four of five starts this season, but has received one or no runs of support three times.

He’s faced Boston once and lasted only 4 2-3 innings, giving up seven runs – four earned – and three homers in a 9-4 road defeat June 24, 2012.

Justin Upton, batting .447 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in his last 11 games, is 6 for 9 with a homer and a triple against Peavy.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons sat out Wednesday after leaving Tuesday with an inflamed right ankle.

Atlanta rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella made his major league debut by going 2 for 4 with two singles, and could be back in the lineup for this contest.

”Relief. It was nice to get that first (hit) out of the way in the first couple of at-bats,” he said.

Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski had two hits Wednesday and has batted .387 during a seven-game hitting streak, while Xander Bogaerts went 3 for 4 to give him a .370 average over his last 14 games.