Perhaps a little time at home was all the Atlanta Braves needed
to emerge from their recent slump.
One night after rallying for a victory, the Braves look to
squeeze another win from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on
Atlanta, which played 26 of 34 on the road before starting this
three-game set, came home having lost five of six to end a 10-game
trip. The Braves hit .210 and scored just 2.8 runs per game over
that six-game stretch.
They’ve been much better at home, improving to 10-5 there with
an 8-5 win over the Dodgers on Friday. Atlanta scored six times
over the sixth and seven innings to erase a two-run deficit.
The Braves, at long last, have all of their top hitters
available. Right fielder Jason Heyward reached base three times and
scored twice in his return from an emergency appendectomy. It
marked his first action since April 20, after which he hit the
disabled list with a paltry .121 batting average.
Friday marked the first time this season that Freddie Freeman,
Brian McCann and Heyward, who have all been on the DL, were on the
“We’ve played 40 games and it’s the first time we’ve had the
lineup we talked about all winter,” manager Fredi Gonzalez
Atlanta (23-18) still could use more help from its rotation,
which has a 6.32 ERA over the last seven games. No Braves starter
has made it through the seventh inning since May 9.
Among the Braves pitchers looking for a rebound performance is
Saturday’s starter, Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.44 ERA). He gave up season
highs of three homers and five walks against San Francisco on
Sunday, surrendering five runs – three earned – and eight hits in 5
1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss.
It was just the second time in eight starts an opponent scored
more than three runs off Medlen, but he remains stuck on one win –
April 9 at Miami – partly because his run support average of 2.72
is among baseball’s worst. Atlanta has lost his last five
Medlen, though, has a good history against the Dodgers, going
2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in six games. He’s handled Matt Kemp well,
allowing just a double in seven at-bats while striking him out four
Kemp saw his 14-game hitting streak end Friday. He’s 3 for 35 in
his last 10 games in Atlanta.
The Dodgers (17-23), who had won four of five before Friday,
look to get back on track with Chris Capuano (1-2, 6.60) on the
mound. The left-hander is coming off his first win and easily his
best performance, throwing just 79 pitches and yielding one run in
6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory over Miami.
That came six days after he was ripped for six runs in four
innings of a loss to Arizona following a three-week stint on the
disabled list for a strained left calf.
“It’s been a bit of a nightmare the past week. It’s nice to wake
up from it,” Capuano said. “I was trying to watch some of the good
games I had last year, look at what I did to be successful and try
to stick with my strengths instead of worrying about getting to the
Capuano has been very successful versus the Braves lately, going
4-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his last eight starts against them.
However, this will be his first time facing Justin Upton in an
Atlanta uniform, and he’s gone 5 for 14 with a homer off Capuano.
Upton hit a grand slam Friday for his major league-leading 14th