Orioles-Braves Preview

If would be unfair for the Baltimore Orioles to expect Wei-Yin

Chen to come close to duplicating Jason Hammel’s most recent

performance.

Matching him for the team lead in wins would surely be more than

acceptable.

After a brilliant start from Hammel gave the Orioles a chance to

win their fourth straight series, Chen will try to finish it off

Sunday against the slumping Atlanta Braves.

Baltimore (38-27) was cooled with a 4-2 loss in Friday’s series

opener but rebounded with a 5-0 victory Saturday behind Hammel’s

one-hitter. After Jason Heyward singled with two outs in the

seventh, Hammel finished up his first career shutout and the team’s

first complete game this season.

“A no-hitter would’ve been nice, but it gave the bullpen the

night off,” Hammel said. “I heard from them. Not one bullpen pitch

thrown. That’s huge because we’ve been taxing them pretty

good.”

Brian Roberts drove in three and Mark Reynolds added a two-run

single to help the Orioles win for the ninth time in 12 games since

losing a season-high six straight.

Despite the loss of No. 3 hitter Nick Markakis (hand),

Baltimore’s offense has continued to shine. The Orioles have

averaged 6.4 runs with nine homers and 16 doubles during a 6-1

surge that has allowed them to keep pace with red-hot New York in

the AL East.

Reynolds has been key in that production, going 9 for 19 with

two homers, three doubles and six RBIs in his last five games.

Hammel has been Baltimore’s best starter this season but not far

behind is Chen (6-2, 3.58 ERA), who has rebounded from a

three-start winless stretch by winning his last two outings. He

allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-6 victory

over Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

The left-hander struggled in three consecutive road starts

before an outstanding performance June 6 at Fenway Park. He limited

the Red Sox to one run and seven hits in seven innings with no

walks and four strikeouts in a 2-1 win.

While Saturday’s loss – their fifth in six games – was

disheartening for the Braves (35-30), their bigger concern is

Brandon Beachy’s health. The majors’ ERA leader left Saturday’s

game in the fourth inning with right elbow soreness.

“We’re going to get the MRI and hope for the best on the

results,” Beachy said.

The potential loss of Beachy would put more pressure on

Atlanta’s offense, which has scored 14 runs and been shut out twice

in the last six games.

Dan Uggla walked twice Saturday but is 3 for 28 in his last 10

games. Eric Hinske, seeing time at first base in place of Freddie

Freeman (hand), is 1 for his last 19.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Chipper Jones would be back in the

lineup Sunday after he was held out Saturday with a swollen left

knee.

A victory in the finale would give the Braves a fifth

consecutive home series win over the Orioles.

Atlanta will send Randall Delgado (4-6, 4.34) to the mound

hoping he can notch his first career victory against an AL

team.

The right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.92 ERA in three interleague

starts. He’s walked 13 in 13 innings in those games, a career-high

six coming in Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Yankees. Delgado threw 66

pitches while giving up a run in each of the first three innings

and needed 110 pitches to complete five frames.

Atlanta’s bullpen likely will see plenty of work in this game

with Delgado completing six innings only three times in 12 starts

this season.