The series opener was postponed Friday because of heavy rains and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sept. 5. It was the second rainout of the year and just the third in the history of Turner Field, which didn’t lose a game to inclement weather in its first five seasons.
The soggy weather will likely benefit Lopez.
After missing five straight games with an ailing right hamstring, the Braves catcher returned with a vengeance Thursday. He went 2-for-4 with a tiebreaking homer in Atlanta’s 8-4 win over the Texas Rangers, lifting the Braves to a sweep of the interleague series.
“I’m pretty impressed with myself,” said Lopez, who is hitting .303 with 14 homers this season. “I’m locked in.”
Lopez said he was disappointed with his performance over the past two years. Determined to regain the form that made him a two-time All-Star, he dropped 35 pounds this past offseason.
The weight loss has renewed Lopez’s optimism and rekindled his confidence.
“I always believed I was a better player than I was the last two years,” Lopez said. “I came out this year with a totally positive mind.”
The Pirates come to Atlanta after snapping a three-game losing streak on Thursday with a 5-4 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Kenny Lofton homered and hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth to lead the Pirates. Brian Boehringer got two outs for the victory, and Mike Williams pitched the ninth inning for his 16th save.
“I’m glad we won’t have to play a doubleheader until the rosters are expanded in September,” Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said.
STANDINGS: Pirates - 5th place, 7 GB, NL Central. Braves - 1st place, NL East.
PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kip Wells (2-2, 3.32 ERA). Wells made his first appearance last Friday since leaving a start with blister problems on May 16. The 26-year-old right-hander worked five innings in a 4-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up two runs and three hits. In his only previous start against the Braves, Wells allowed one run and seven hits over six innings of a 6-0 loss last Sept. 4.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Shane Reynolds (4-1, 4.82 ERA). Reynolds will be making his first start in 10 days because Braves manager Bobby Cox elected to skip his turn in the rotation last week. On May 27, the right-hander limited the Cincinnati Reds to two runs and four hits over six innings, but he did not get the decision in the Braves’ 3-2 victory. Reynolds is 11-6 with a 3.29 ERA in 22 career appearances against the Pirates, including 19 starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Pirates - Lofton, .315 avg., 41 runs and 11 SBs.; Reggie Sanders, 8 HRs; Randall Simon, 36 RBIs. Braves - Gary Sheffield, .354 avg., 16 HRs and 51 RBIs; Rafael Furcal, 54 runs and 11 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 3-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Pirates - LF Brian Giles is batting .364 (8-for-22) with a homer in his career against RHP Reynolds. … The Pirates have scored 123 of their 242 runs this season (50.8 percent) in the first three innings. … CF Lofton, who has been mention in trade rumors that would send him to the New York Yankees, has hit safely in 30 of his last 31 games. Braves - CF Andruw Jones, who has been sidelined by a hyperextended shoulder, hasn’t started the last four games. … SS Furcal was thrown out attempting to steal for the first time this year Thursday. He had been successful on 11 straight attempts. … RF Sheffield is 7-for-13 with two homers in his last four games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Pirates - 17-12 on the road; Braves - 22-9 at home.
INJURIES: Pirates - OF Matt Stairs (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL. Braves - CF Jones (shoulder), day-to-day; RHP Paul Byrd (back), 15-day DL.