Marlins-Braves Preview

Positive momentum has been rare for the Atlanta Braves this

month.

Brian McCann is trying to change that.

Coming off his best offensive showing of September, McCann looks

to lead the Braves to a second consecutive win Wednesday in the

finale of their three-game series against the visiting Florida

Marlins.

Atlanta (85-64) began the month 8 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis

for the NL wild card, but that lead has dwindled to 4 1/2 due to a

4-9 stretch that includes a three-game sweep at the hands of the

Cardinals last weekend.

McCann had been batting .146 with one homer and four RBIs over

his last 13 games prior to Tuesday, including a strikeout with the

bases loaded in the ninth inning of Monday’s series opener, which

Atlanta lost 5-4 in 12.

However, he had two hits including a three-run homer in the

middle game of the series to lead the Braves over Florida (67-80)

7-1.

“That took a lot of pressure off the whole team,” second baseman

Dan Uggla said. “That was not just a three-run homer. That could be

one of the biggest homers this year.

“He’s our rock. We depend on him a lot. That’s a big load on his

shoulders.”

McCann has matched his career high with 24 homers, and his next

one will make him the first Braves catcher to reach 25 since 2003,

when Javy Lopez hit a franchise-record 43.

Randall Delgado (0-1, 3.60 ERA) could use some help from his

teammates if he’s going to convert his fifth start into his first

career victory.

The 21-year-old rookie right-hander appeared headed for a win

Friday, but Craig Kimbrel blew the save in the ninth before the

Braves fell 4-3 in 10 at St. Louis.

Delgado turned the game over to the bullpen after allowing one

run, three hits and three walks in five innings. He’s been backed

by four total runs in his four outings, while limiting opponents to

one run in two of them.

“He competed,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s

official website. “If you had to critique him really hard, 100 or

so pitches (actually 93) in five innings is a lot of work.”

The Marlins had their four-game winning streak halted Tuesday,

and Ricky Nolasco (10-10, 4.40) will try to help them rebound by

continuing his success at Turner Field.

The right-hander is 3-1 with a 4.45 ERA in his last five starts

at Atlanta. He was solid there again July 31, yielding one run in 6

2-3 innings of a 3-1 win.

Nolasco allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings of a

13-4 victory at Pittsburgh on Friday. He didn’t walk a batter, and

has issued only one free pass in 18 2-3 innings over his last three

starts.

“I just want to not give up any free passes and just stay

aggressive,” Nolasco told the Marlins’ official website. “And let

those guys put the ball in play and try and get our guys back in

the dugout as soon as possible. Just try and not allow a big

inning.”

McCann has six homers in 41 career at-bats against Nolasco – the

most Atlanta’s catcher has off any pitcher as well as the most

Nolasco has allowed to any batter.