Braves starting pitchers are 15-3 in July, and have compiled a 2.76 ERA in winning five of their last six games, including Wednesday’s 1-0 victory.
Russ Ortiz shut Pittsburgh out for seven innings and Chipper Jones homered as Atlanta won for the 11th time in its last 13 road games, opening a 2 1/2 -game lead over second-place Philadelphia in the East.
On Thursday, the Braves will start John Thomson, who has won three of his last four decisions while allowing three runs or fewer four times in his last five starts. The right-hander won his second straight start Saturday with a 5-2 road victory over the New York Mets. He allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings.
J.D. Drew, whose career-best 22-game hitting streak was snapped in Atlanta’s 8-4 loss Tuesday, is expected to return to the lineup Thursday. The right fielder was given Wednesday off.
“When you’re playing 18 straight days, somebody has to have a breather every once in a while,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, whose team won 17 games during Drew’s hitting streak.
Drew, who hit .379 (33-for-87) during his run, has reached base in 41 straight games.
“I could use the rest right now,” Drew said. “I’ll take the day to regroup and start over again.”
Pittsburgh, 16-8 this month, will try again for its first 17-win month since going 17-12 in May 1999.
The Pirates lost at home for only the third time in 18 games Wednesday.