Washington (36-61) at Atlanta (46-50)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Jul 19, 2008
  • TV: MASN2, PTV
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Jair Jurrjens has been a pleasant surprise for an Atlanta Braves pitching staff that’s been ravaged by injuries to some key performers this season.

The rookie right-hander tries for his 10th win while looking to help the Braves to a fourth straight victory as they continue their home series with the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

With disabled former All-Stars John Smoltz (shoulder) and Tom Glavine (elbow, hamstring) making 17 combined starts, and Mike Hampton’s return from 2005 elbow surgery still up in the air, Jurrjens (9-4, 3.00 ERA) has done more than his share to help fill the void left by those absences.

Despite nine pitchers having started games for Atlanta (46-50) - 6 1/2 games back of first-place Philadelphia in the NL East - the Braves are focused on making a run toward the top of the division standings.

“I think everyone in here still feels like we can move up and win our division,” pitcher Tim Hudson said.

Jurrjens, the NL rookie of the month in June, is 8-2 with a 2.82 ERA over his last 15 starts since opening 1-2. He looks to become the second Braves’ pitcher in as many nights to earn a 10th win after Hudson did so in a 7-6 victory over Washington (36-61) in Friday’s series opener.

“I can’t describe how good he’s been all year long,” Atlanta catcher Brian McCann said of Jurrjens. “He’s only 22, but he has ace written all over him.”

Jurrjens, who allowed a run and five hits in six innings of a 9-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 8, is 5-1 with a 2.83 ERA at home. He gave up an earned run and two hits in seven innings of 3-2 12-inning loss at Washington on April 30 in his only start versus the Nationals.

On Friday, McCann had a three-run double and rookie shortstop Brent Lillibridge had two hits and two RBIs for Atlanta (45-50), which has scored 19 runs in its last two contests and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Nationals.

McCann is batting .474 (9-for-19) with eight RBIs in his last six games. Lillibridge, meanwhile, made his fourth straight start in place of Yunel Escobar (sore left shoulder) and is 7-for-12 with five RBIs in his last three contests.

Paul Lo Duca drove in two runs and former Braves outfielder Ryan Langerhans had two hits for Washington, which stranded the tying run on third base in the ninth inning and lost for the 10th time in its last 11 road games.

Johnny Estrada, another former Brave, went 0-for-4 in his first game since coming off the disabled list with an elbow injury the same day the Nationals placed outfielder Wily Mo Pena on the DL with an injured left shoulder. Estrada is 2-for-17 against his former team in 2008.

Washington, which has made 21 DL moves involving 15 players this season, hopes to avoid a fourth straight loss when it sends John Lannan (5-9, 3.40) to the mound.

Lannan allowed two hits in six innings of a 5-0 win over Arizona on July 9 for his first victory after going 0-5 in eight starts since winning at Baltimore on May 18.

“I went out there and battled without my best stuff,” said the left-hander, who is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts - both in April - against Atlanta.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Lannan Col vs. J. Jurrjens Col
9-15 Record 13-10
3.91 ERA 3.68
117 K 139
72 BB 70
1.34 WHIP 1.37


Saturday, Jul 19