After a winning road trip, the Atlanta Braves appear poised to carry over that success at home against one of the major league’s worst teams.
The surging Braves look for a third straight victory Saturday in the continuation of a three-game set against the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks.
Coming off a 6-2 swing versus NL East foes Florida, Philadelphia and New York, the Braves (18-17) surpassed the .500 mark for the first time since they were 9-8 on April 25.
Friday’s victory in the opener of a 10-game homestand also snapped a four-game losing streak at Turner Field, where Atlanta is 6-9. The Braves haven’t won consecutive home games since sweeping a three-game set with last-place Washington from April 10-12.
“Hopefully it’s something to build on. We started it on the road and we want to keep it going,” said Jones, who used a pregame meeting to ask his teammates to keep up their intensity from the road trip. “We’ve got to win ballgames here.”
Jones’ fourth homer was just the sixth for Atlanta at Turner Field. The six-time All-Star is 5 for 10 with two doubles and three RBIs in his last three games, and batting .429 (9 for 21) with two homers and four RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona (13-23) has lost five of six to Atlanta, and is 1-6 since A.J. Hinch replaced the fired Bob Melvin as manager last week. Batting a major-league low .232, the Diamondbacks will face Atlanta’s 31-year-old rookie Kenshin Kawakami(notes) (2-4, 5.79 ERA) for the first time.
The former Japan Central League star allowed two runs and five hits in six innings while striking out six and walking four in a 4-2 win at Philadelphia on Sunday for his first victory since his major-league debut on April 11.
The right-hander had lost his previous four decisions.
“There’s no need for anybody to get down on him,” manager Bobby Cox told the Braves’ official Web site. “I like his stuff. Just give him time.”
Arizona’s first-round pick in 2006 allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 10-8 win over Washington last Saturday.
“It’s just one of those things,” Scherzer told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “I’m more concerned about the team winning than my first win.”
The right-hander makes his first start against Atlanta, but has pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings of relief versus the Braves.
Though batting .231, Drew is 3 for 8 with two RBIs in two games since being activated from the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. He is hitting .333 (11 for 33) with two doubles, two triples and two homers during a seven-game hitting streak versus the Braves.