Houston was 25-20 on May 22 but lost 11 of its next 13 games, including the first four of this 10-game homestand.
“I’m thinking we’re getting ready to break out of it,” Garner said following the defeat. “I keep looking for that one thing that’s going to happen. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen soon.”
Garner’s words range true as Houston (30-31) earned back-to-back wins over the Cubs to conclude the series, then rallied for a 7-4 victory over the Braves on Thursday.
“When Lance gets hot a little bit, guys jump on his back,” Garner said. “He’s starting to swing the bat a bit better.”
Rookie Fernando Nieve (1-3, 5.19 ERA) looks to follow up Pettitte’s performance when he faces the Braves for the first time Friday.
Nieve filled in for the injured Roy Oswalt on Sunday, and allowed two runs in five innings of the Astros’ 6-4, 11-inning loss to Cincinnati.
The right-hander has lost his last three decisions and hasn’t won since striking out a career-high seven in seven innings of an 8-5 victory at Milwaukee on May 2.
With Thursday’s loss, Atlanta (29-32) dropped to 2-9 in its last 11 games. The Braves will look for a boost from right-hander Jorge Sosa (1-7, 5.07) on Friday.
Sosa has failed to follow up on his 13-3 record of last year, which included wins in six of his last seven decisions.
This season, he went 0-4 with a 6.89 ERA in April and 1-2 with a 3.78 ERA in May.
In his last outing, Sosa gave up five runs and struck out four in six innings of a 9-3 loss to Arizona on Sunday.
Sosa didn’t allow a walk for the third time in his last four starts, but gave up two homers to up his total to 12 in 55 innings. He allowed 12 homers in 134 innings in 2005.
Atlanta may have catcher Brian McCann back in the lineup Friday. McCann sprained his ankle May 20 against Arizona and was placed on the 15-day disabled list four days later.
“It’s not going to be 100 percent for a while,” McCann said. “But it’s good. I can play through the pain without re-aggravating it.”
McCann is hitting .347 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 40 games.
The Braves have won seven of the last nine meetings with the Astros and are 10-5 on the road in the series since the start of 2001.