Cincinnati (61-73) at Atlanta (70-65)

Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Sep 5, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Entering the final month of the regular season, it’s the Cincinnati Reds - not the Atlanta Braves - looking like a team striving to stay in the playoff race.

With their postseason hopes fading, the Braves try to avoid losing four straight for the first time in 10 weeks Saturday when they host the surging Reds, who seek their first six-game winning streak of the season.

After dropping the final two contests in a four-game series at Florida, Atlanta (70-65) lost Friday’s opener against the Reds 3-1. The Braves, who haven’t dropped four in a row since June 24-27, fell five games back of Colorado for the wild-card lead.

“It’s just frustrating,” said catcher Brian McCann(notes), who hit into a double play with bases loaded in the first inning.

Atlanta needs to start stringing some wins together, something that suddenly isn’t a problem for Cincinnati.

The Reds (61-73) have won five in a row and are a major league-best 10-2 since Aug. 23. They couldn’t catch a break immediately before this surge, going a major league-worst 7-24 from July 20-Aug. 22.

Jonny Gomes(notes) hit his 17th homer of the season in the series opener for Cincinnati, which is trying to win six in a row for the first time since May 12-18, 2008.

“We’re just trying to get as many wins as possible,” said second baseman Brandon Phillips(notes), who went 2 for 3 with a RBI in his first game off the disabled list. “If we can get to .500, that would be a positive thing for us.”

Nate McLouth(notes) came off the DL for Atlanta, and provided the lone bright spot for the team with a sixth-inning homer.

McLouth, who had missed the previous 17 games with a strained left hamstring, is batting .375 with two home runs, six RBIs and seven runs in his last six games against the Reds.

Jair Jurrjens(notes) (10-9, 2.89 ERA) takes the mound for the Braves hoping McLouth and the offense can back him with some runs.

Jurrjens owns the 11th-best ERA in the majors but has been hurt by a lack of offensive help, receiving two runs or fewer of support in six of his last seven outings

The right-hander allowed three runs - two earned - and seven hits in seven innings of a 3-2 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday, the 21st time in 28 starts this year he yielded two earned runs or fewer. In those 21 instances, he has failed to get a win 13 times because of poor run support.

A combination of mother nature and a lack of offense saddled Jurrjens with the loss in his lone start of the season against the Reds on June 16. A rain delay shortened Jurrjens’ outing after just two innings, and he gave up one run and two hits in a 7-2 defeat.

Cincinnati counters with Kip Wells(notes) (0-3, 5.48), who is set to make his third start of the season.

After 26 appearances out of the bullpen to start the year, Wells has allowed five runs in 11 innings over his first two starts, failing to record a decision in either. The right-hander gave up two runs, two hits and four walks in six innings of a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on Monday.

Wells, who hasn’t won a game since April 17, 2008, while pitching for Colorado, is 1-3 with a 3.22 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Wells LAA vs. J. Jurrjens Col
2-5 Record 14-10
5.33 ERA 2.60
43 K 152
40 BB 75
1.38 WHIP 1.21


Saturday, Sep 5