Major League Baseball
Braves-Pirates Preview
Major League Baseball

Braves-Pirates Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 10:59 p.m. ET

Francisco Cervelli wasted little time living up to his contract extension Tuesday, while the Atlanta Braves looked exactly like the club that got its manager fired.

Now Cervelli will try to help the Pittsburgh Pirates continue their offensive dominance in this series Wednesday night when they look to complete their first three-game home sweep of the major league-worst Braves in 22 years.

Shortly after inking a $31 million, three-year deal Tuesday that runs from 2017-19, Cervelli had an RBI single and an RBI double in his first two at-bats before adding a single and a stolen base as the Pirates held on for a 12-9 victory.

''The most important thing is what we have in the clubhouse: coaches, teammates. It's just special,'' said Cervelli, who has four RBIs in the series.


Gregory Polanco also had a special day with three doubles, while John Jaso and Andrew McCutchen contributed three hits and two RBIs apiece as Pittsburgh (21-17) matched a season high in runs and reached a new mark with 21 hits.

With Polanco going 6 for 8, the Pirates have totaled 20 runs and 35 hits while moving in position for their first home sweep of Atlanta since April 29-May 1, 1994.

However, things could get more difficult as they go after their fourth straight victory. Braves right-hander Julio Teheran has a 1.44 ERA over his last five starts.

Teheran, though, is still searching for his first victory thanks in part to a 2.79 run-support average that ranks among the worst in the majors.

"You just try to keep going forward," he told the league's official website. "Just try to concentrate on my job. I'm glad about the way I've been pitching."

Teheran (0-4, 3.17 ERA) will try to pick up an overworked bullpen after Aaron Blair allowed nine runs over 1 1/3 innings Tuesday in the team's first game since manager Fredi Gonzalez was fired after five-plus seasons earlier in the day.

The Braves (9-29), led on an interim basis by former Triple-A Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker, are on pace for the franchise's worst season in nearly 30 years.

''We all assume a lot of responsibility," director of baseball operations John Hart explained. "That being said, we do think we're better than what we've played.''

Atlanta finished with season highs in runs and hits (15) after averaging just 2.7 runs over its previous 24 games. Mallex Smith had the first two-homer game of his career, while Gordon Beckham had his first three-hit game of the season.

"It seems like when our pitching is there our bats haven't been and then vice versa," Smith said. "Right now we're just waiting for it all to click.''

The Braves hope to keep Francisco Liriano (3-2, 4.99) scuffling after he surrendered eight runs and nine hits - including three homers - over 4 2/3 innings in Friday's 9-4 loss at Wrigley Field. It was the second-most earned runs he's given up behind a 10-run, 12-hit dud over 2 1/3 at Coors Field in August 2013.

"You can't make that many mistakes at this level," Liriano said.

The left-hander has gone 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA while limiting the Braves to two runs or less in three of his four career meetings. Freddie Freeman is 3 for 4 in the matchup, but Jeff Francoeur and Beckham are a combined 4 for 39.


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