Strong starting pitching has led the Atlanta Braves to their longest win streak of the season—a run that began with a solid performance from a rookie as he made his first major-league start.
Lerew (0-0, 3.00 ERA) held San Diego to two runs and two hits while striking out seven in six innings on Tuesday as the Braves (24-12) won 3-2 to begin their win streak.
“That’s the best I’ve ever seen Anthony,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “All he’s got to do is throw that sinker like he’s throwing it, throw the changeup and he’s in business.”
Lerew, a right-hander who made eight relief appearances for Atlanta from 2005-06, will make his first career appearance against the Pirates.
Coming off three straight wins over San Diego, Atlanta has outscored Pittsburgh 13-3 in winning the first two games of this series, including a 9-2 victory on Saturday that moved Cox into fourth place all-time with 2,195 career managerial victories.
The Braves haven’t swept a three-game series from the Pirates in Pittsburgh since June 1-3, 2001.
“We’re starting to break loose pretty good,” Cox said.
“I would say he’ll be back quicker than later, but I don’t know about (Sunday),” said Cox. “Well see.”
For the Pirates, Saturday’s loss was their sixth in their last seven home games, and their sixth in eight games overall. They have been held to three runs or fewer in 19 of 35 games this year, and are batting just .190 in their last four contests.
“We’ve got to take it upon ourselves to make it personal and go out there and turn it around,” Bay said.
Adam LaRoche, traded to Pittsburgh in January after three seasons with the Braves, has been among the least effective hitters in the Pirates lineup. The first baseman is batting .164 this year, and just .128 at PNC Park. He is 0-for-3 and has grounded into two double plays against his former club.
LaRoche, though, is 10-for-34 (.294) with runners in scoring position.
“That’s the one thing I can hang my hat on right now, but I’ve still missed a ton of opportunities at driving runs in,” LaRoche told the team’s official Web site.
Pittsburgh hopes to get off its skid with Ian Snell (2-2, 2.35) on the mound. Snell - who leads Pirates starters in ERA, strikeouts (36) and opponent batting average (.222) - held the Chicago Cubs to three runs in seven innings of the Pirates’ 4-3 victory in 15 innings on Tuesday. He has allowed more than two earned runs only once in his seven starts.
Snell is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in three career appearances - two starts - against Atlanta.