The Braves will be looking to move the Brewers further down in the NL Central standings as the teams wrap up their four-game series on Sunday.
Atlanta (81-74) beat Milwaukee 4-3 in 11 innings on Saturday, knocking the Brewers 2 1/2 games behind the Central-leading Chicago Cubs, who beat Pittsburgh. Milwaukee (79-75) has eight games remaining, while Chicago has seven — and those team aren’t scheduled to meet again in the regular season .
“We have to figure out a way to win these next eight games and see what happens,” Brewers outfielder Corey Hart said.
Hart hit a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning, but closer Francisco Cordero yielded just his second homer in 63 games to Scott Thorman in the bottom of the frame. Mark Teixeira singled in the winning run in the 11th after Rickie Weeks bobbled a potential double-play grounder with no outs.
The Braves will be playing their final home game of 2007 before wrapping up their schedule with three at Philadelphia and three at Houston. Atlanta has won seven of nine but are 5 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets and 4 1/2 behind NL wild card-leading San Diego.
“Everybody probably has the sense that our chances are monumental,” Atlanta’s John Smoltz told the Braves’ official Web site, “but at the same time, what else do we have to do? Some guys are playing for their future and we’re still playing for the playoffs, and that’s really the only thing that matters right now.”
Hart, meanwhile, went 1-for-5 and is batting .409 (40-for-98) over his last 29 games and .375 (9-for-24) in six games against Atlanta this season.
The Brewers used six relievers in Saturday’s marathon, and are dipping into their bullpen for a starter in the finale. Chris Capuano (5-12, 5.21 ERA) will go in place of oft-injured staff ace Ben Sheets, who’s out with a sore hamstring.
Capuano has lost a team-record 12 straight decisions since winning on May 7 against Washington. The skid spans 16 starts and four relief outings, and the Brewers have lost in each of them.
Capuano hasn’t pitched since a scoreless four-inning effort on Sept. 14 in a 6-5 loss to Cincinnati.
“Lately, I have been preparing myself for that long-relief role, so I am ready to go in the first three innings,” Capuano told the Brewers’ official Web site. “I don’t think this will be too much different.”
Milwaukee manager Ned Yost could have gone with Claudio Vargas, but chose Capuano because of his strong numbers against the Braves - he owns a 3.60 ERA in six appearances, including five starts, against them despite a 2-3 record. Atlanta also is 29-32 against left-handed starters.
Capuano lost 2-1 to the Braves on May 28, but allowed just two runs and seven hits in seven innings.
Andruw Jones is 5-for-15 all-time against Capuano, including four homers. Sunday’s contest also could be the final home game as a Brave for Jones, who will become a free agent after the season.
Jo-Jo Reyes (1-2, 6.98) will start for Atlanta, and is eager to pitch after his first major league win. The rookie left-hander allowed one run in five innings and struck out a career-high seven in Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over Florida.
“I broke the seal now,” said Reyes, who has never faced the Brewers. “Now I’m ready to go. I’m ready to get some more.”