Atlanta (86-49) at Pittsburgh (62-71)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 74° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Aug 31, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Atlanta Braves knew their mini-slump wouldn’t last very long.

One day after breaking out of their funk in a big way, the Braves will look for another big day at the plate when they meet the Pittsburgh Pirates in the finale of their three-game series at PNC Park.

Before pounding the Pirates 13-6 on Saturday, the Braves had lost two of three to the New York Mets at home before falling to the Pirates 6-5 on Friday.

They made sure those struggles would not continue Saturday. Gary Sheffield went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, and every Atlanta starting position player finished with at least one hit.

“It’s nice to see the bats break out,” said second baseman Marcus Giles, who went 2-for-4 with a solo homer. “We’re capable of it and it’s nice to see.”

Andruw Jones and Mike Hessman also homered for Atlanta, but Hessman was optioned back to Triple-A Richmond after the game.

The Braves are expected to recall catcher Johnny Estrada to take Hessman’s roster spot. Players must be on a major league roster by Sunday to be eligible for postseason play, when the Braves usually carry three catchers.

The Pirates had won four straight before Saturday.

Jeff D’Amico, who missed his scheduled start on Tuesday because of the flu, will return to the mound on Sunday. He was brilliant in his most recent start, pitching a three-hitter in a 14-0 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 20.

“It was a perfect day,” D’Amico said. “You can’t say much more than that.”

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Pirates - 4th place, 8 GB, NL Central.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Shane Reynolds (10-7, 5.36 ERA). Reynolds struggled on Tuesday, giving up six runs and five hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 loss to the Mets. The 35-year-old right-hander is 11-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 23 career games against Pittsburgh.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: D’Amico (8-12, 4.02 ERA). D’Amico is 0-2 with a 3.25 ERA in five career games against Atlanta.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .333 avg.; Sheffield and Javy Lopez, 34 HRs; Sheffield, 112 RBIs and 112 runs; Rafael Furcal, 22 SBs. Pirates - Jason Kendall .316 avg. and 73 runs; Reggie Sanders, 29 HRs, 72 RBIs and 11 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Braves, 3-1.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - RHP Jaret Wright, claimed Friday from San Diego, made his Atlanta debut by pitching a scoreless ninth on Saturday. He was 1-5 with an 8.37 ERA and two saves with the Padres. … RHP Reynolds is 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA in five day games this season. … 3B Vinny Castilla is 1-for-13 (.077) in his career against RHP D’Amico. Pirates - Pittsburgh has seven straight games with at least 10 hits. … SS Jack Wilson is batting .348 (23-for-66) during his career-high 17-game hitting streak. … The Pirates have hit 39 homers in August, the third-highest monthly total in team history. They hit 40 in July 1966 and 43 in August 1947.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 40-28 on the road; Pirates - 32-37 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - 1B Julio Franco (finger), 15-day DL; RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Gryboski (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Roberto Hernandez (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP John Smoltz (elbow), 15-day DL. Pirates - 2B Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL; 2B Pokey Reese (thumb), 60-day DL; RHP Kris Benson (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Reynolds Ari vs. J. D'Amico Cle
11-9 Record 9-16
5.43 ERA 4.77
94 K 100
59 BB 42
1.49 WHIP 1.40