With the Atlanta Braves in position to win a fourth straight game for the first time this season, their inconsistent offense again failed to deliver. That’s becoming all too familiar for Braves pitchers.
The Braves look to rebound from another rough night at the plate and provide starter Javier Vazquez(notes) with some run support as they close a four-game series against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Atlanta (29-29) totaled 19 runs and 39 hits while putting together its fifth three-game winning streak of the season earlier this week, but the Braves’ latest bid for their first four-game run fell short with a 3-2 loss to the Pirates (27-32) on Wednesday night.
The Braves had six hits - one in six at-bats with runners in scoring position - and scored two or fewer runs for the 22nd time in 58 games.
While Jurrjens has been the Atlanta starter most consistently doomed by poor run support this year, Vazquez (4-5, 3.54 ERA) has reason to be frustrated as well. The right-hander has gotten four runs of support over 18 innings spanning his last three starts - all Atlanta losses.
“Hopefully we can pull out of this funk,” Vazquez said after he suffered a 3-0 loss to Milwaukee on Saturday. “I’ve always said if your offense is good or not, you have to go out there and throw your game.”
Vazquez held Milwaukee to two runs and four hits while striking out seven in six innings. His teammates are well aware they’ve been letting him down at the plate.
“You would think that you’d scratch some runs together and give some support to Javier,” second baseman Kelly Johnson(notes) said Saturday. “He pitched really well. Three runs, we should at least be in the mix there.”
The Braves tried to address their issues on offense by acquiring Nate McLouth(notes) from the Pirates on June 3. The All-Star outfielder is 7 for 25 (.280) with a home run, two RBIs and five runs scored with Atlanta, going 5 for 14 (.357) with three runs against his former club.
Vazquez is 6-3 with a 4.62 ERA in 14 starts against the Pirates. He held them scoreless over six innings in an 11-1 win April 19.
The Pirates will hand the ball to Paul Maholm(notes) (4-2, 3.94), who ended a seven-start winless streak Saturday. The left-hander gave up four runs in seven innings of a 6-4 victory at Houston, his first win since defeating Florida on April 22.
“It’s been frustrating,” said Maholm, who was 0-2 with a 4.97 ERA during the drought. “But you just have to understand that over 34 starts in a season, you’re going to have little stretches like that. You just have to keep working and not let it bother you.
“Sometimes you give up four runs and win and sometimes you give up one and get a no-decision. That’s just the way it goes.”
Maholm may have learned that lesson against the Braves. He’s delivered a quality start in each of his three games against them while posting a 1.80 ERA, but was 0-1 before pitching seven innings in a 3-0 victory April 17.