Winners in 20 of 26, the Braves will try to regain their momentum in Monday night’s opener of a four-game road series against the struggling Diamondbacks.
Atlanta (33-24) started 8-14 but has surged to the NL East lead with outstanding play since May 9. The Braves have posted one of the major league’s best ERA over that time (3.27) and Monday’s starter, Derek Lowe(notes), has helped.
Lowe (8-4, 4.44 ERA) is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his past five outings, has won his last three and given up one run apiece in his past two.
The right-hander went a season-high eight innings in his latest victory, 2-1 against Philadelphia on Wednesday. He set another season mark with seven strikeouts, scattered six hits and walked one for the second straight start.
After signing a four-year, $60 million deal with the Braves, Lowe went 15-10 with a 4.67 ERA - his worst in five years - last season but has relied more on his changeup this year.
“The light bulb went on for me,” Lowe said.
One of those defeats last season came in Arizona as he allowed five runs and 10 hits over seven innings. He was 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his previous six meetings with the Diamondbacks, and the Braves could use one of those efforts after the end to their previous series in Los Angeles.
After taking the opener, Atlanta suffered a pair of 5-4 losses over the next three games, including Sunday’s defeat in 11 innings.
Home runs from Martin Prado(notes) and Brian McCann(notes) in the fifth inning seemed to have the Braves headed toward a sixth straight series win. The Dodgers, however, tied it in their half of the inning, and Atlanta failed to drive in a runner from third in the ninth and 10th innings.
Prado, batting .404 during an 11-game hit streak, had the winning two-run single in the ninth against the Diamondbacks on May 14 at Turner Field. After getting blown out the next day, the Braves bounced back with a 13-1 rout to claim the series and their 10th win in 15 tries against Arizona.
Those losses to Atlanta are part of the Diamondbacks’ current 8-20 slide, which began May 7. Arizona has posted one of lowest batting averages (.223) and worst ERAs (5.66) in the majors over that time.
The Diamondbacks (22-35) won twice against Colorado this weekend but came up short of a home sweep Sunday. Conor Jackson(notes) hit a two-run homer off major league wins leader Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) but it was Arizona’s only runs in a 3-2 loss.
The Diamondbacks might need more scoring if Dan Haren(notes) (5-4, 4.83) regresses. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA in his last five starts and was tagged for seven runs over 4 1-3 innings by Atlanta on May 16.
Haren, though, threw eight scoreless innings Tuesday night in Los Angeles but wasn’t part of the decision in a 1-0 loss in 10 innings.
“My arm felt good, finally getting, I wouldn’t say healthy, but like I have in the past,” he told the team’s official website.
Haren is 1-2 with a 7.13 ERA in his last three starts against Atlanta and is 3-2 with a 6.44 ERA in five career matchups.