Major League Baseball
Orioles-Braves Preview
Major League Baseball

Orioles-Braves Preview

Published Jun. 17, 2012 1:04 a.m. ET

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.


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