The Cubs look to win three straight games for the first time in a month while the Braves try to avoid losing a season-high four in a row when the teams continue their four-game series Friday at Turner Field.
Chicago (26-32) defeated the Braves 2-1 on Thursday in manager Lou Piniella’s return from a four-game suspension. The Cubs improved to 3-12 in one-run games - still the worst such record in the majors.
“I believe you get good pitching and play good baseball and get some timely hitting, you win baseball games,” Piniella said.
Chicago has won four of five, a stretch that began with a 10-1 home victory over Atlanta on Sunday, one day after Piniella was ejected for making contact with an umpire.
The Cubs, who had dropped 10 of 12 before the turnaround, have not won three consecutive games since a season-high five-game winning streak May 1-6.
The Braves (33-28), meanwhile, have lost five of six starting with Sunday’s defeat.
Atlanta has scored just six runs during its three-game losing skid, and is trying to avoid losing four in a row for the first time since last July 27-30.
Andruw Jones had two of Atlanta’s three hits on Thursday, including his 10th home run of the season. The center fielder was 0-for-12 in his previous three games, but has homered in two of his last three matchups against the Cubs.
Lance Cormier (0-1, 18.00 ERA) hopes his second start of the season goes a little better than his first when he gets the ball for Atlanta on Friday.
Cormier, who missed the first two months of the season after suffering a strained right triceps muscle late in spring training, was the losing pitcher in Sunday’s lopsided defeat. The Cubs knocked him around for eight runs and nine hits - including three home runs - in four innings.
“Some days you’re going to have good stuff and some days you don’t,” the right-hander told the Braves’ official Web site.
“Five days from now, it could be a different story. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have better stuff than I did today.”
Mark DeRosa hit a grand slam off of Cormier on Sunday, while Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano added solo shots. Soriano is 7-for-12 (.583) with a homer, triple and a double in his career against the right-hander.
Soriano led off Thursday’s game with a triple, and finished 2-for-3 with a RBI and a run. The Cubs left fielder is batting .469 (15-for-32) with three homers and six RBIs in seven games this month, and is hitting .368 (35-for-95) with eight home runs, 17 runs scored and 19 RBIs in 22 games against the Braves since the start of last season.
Sean Marshall (1-2, 2.25) defeated Cormier last Sunday, and will look to do so again.
After receiving just one run of support while losing his first two starts of 2007, the left-hander benefited from plenty of offense his last time out. He gave up one run, six hits and matched a career high with eight strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings.
Marshall also pitched well in his only other start against the Braves, allowing two runs and seven hits in six innings of a 2-1 loss on May 27 of last season.