In stark contrast to how each club spent the first month of the season, the Atlanta Braves are surging and the Arizona Diamondbacks are slumping. If Tom Glavine’s history against the Diamondbacks is any indication, the current trend is likely to continue.
Glavine looks to win his fourth straight decision against the Diamondbacks as the Braves go for their seventh win in eight games Sunday at Turner Field.
At the end of April, Arizona had the best record in the majors at 20-8, and Atlanta had dropped four straight to fall three games under .500.
Though the Diamondbacks (29-20) remain in first place in the NL West, they’re just 9-12 in May, including 1-7 on the road.
The Braves (27-22), meanwhile, have climbed back into contention with a 15-7 record this month. They’ve batted .310 and posted a 3.00 ERA in winning six of their last seven.
They hope to continue that surge behind Glavine (2-1, 3.98 ERA), who’s 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA in four starts against the Diamondbacks since he last lost to them on April 27, 2003. In 15 career starts against Arizona, the 42-year-old left-hander is 10-3 with a 2.49 ERA.
Glavine is looking to win his third straight start after failing to get a victory in any of his first six outings since returning to the Braves in the offseason.
Glavine, who started his career with Atlanta before a five-year stint with the New York Mets that ended with a late collapse last September, held the Mets to one run and three hits in six innings of a 6-1 win on Tuesday. After a shaky start, he retired the last 17 batters he faced.
“You’re always trying to prove people wrong,” he said. “There were a lot of naysayers about me coming to pitch with the way I finished last season. I still think I can pitch. That’s the most important thing.”
Atlanta could be riding some momentum from a dramatic victory in Saturday’s game. Jeff Francoeur hit a walk-off, two-run home run off reliever Chad Qualls in the ninth inning to give the Braves a 3-1 victory. It was the second homer in four games for Francoeur, who hadn’t hit one in 33 games since going deep twice on April 12.
“Hopefully this is something that gets me going here and gets me back feeling relaxed at the plate and grooving it,” said Francoeur, who was 3-for-22 in six games before his 2-for-4 performance Saturday.
Francoeur’s game-winner wasted a strong start from Arizona’s Randy Johnson and dealt the Diamondbacks their fourth loss in five games.
The Diamondbacks will try to bounce back with Micah Owings (5-2, 3.81) on the mound. They’ve lost four of the last five games started by Owings since the right-hander’s 4-0 start.
Owings pitched well enough to win on Tuesday, holding Florida to three runs while striking out a career-high 10 in seven innings, but he didn’t get much support in the 3-2 defeat.
Owings, a native of Gainesville, Georgia, won his only previous start against the Braves on Aug. 18 of last season, holding them to three runs while striking out seven in a 12-6 victory at Turner Field. Owings, batting .323 this year, was 4-for-5 with two homers, six RBIs and four runs scored in that game.
“It’s up there with the best ever,” Owings said. “To be back home and have the game I had tonight, I’m just unbelievably blessed.”
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