Houston (15-26) at Atlanta (24-19)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 82° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Tue May 17, 2011
  • TV: SPSO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Jason Heyward(notes) is slated to make his first start in a week in the finale of Atlanta’s two-game home series with the Houston Astros.

The Astros probably wish Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez would rest him one more day.

Heyward, who has feasted on Houston pitching, looks to lead Atlanta to a fourth straight victory Tuesday and send the slumping Astros to their 10th defeat in 13 games.

Heyward missed his sixth straight start in Monday’s 3-2 win over Houston (15-26) because of inflammation in his right shoulder. It was the 11th victory in 15 games this month for the Braves (24-19), who also won the final two contests of a weekend series with NL East-leading Philadelphia.

“I think the biggest thing was we got a little bit of momentum this weekend against Philly and just wanted to keep rolling,” said Tommy Hanson(notes), Monday’s winning pitcher.

Heyward entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning Monday, and later reached on an error - his first at-bat since his last start May 10.

Gonzalez said Heyward will start the finale, and the skipper is probably eager to get him back in the lineup.

The All-Star right fielder is batting .429 with three homers and seven RBIs in five career games against the Astros.

The Braves, winners of seven of eight over Houston, could also get Chipper Jones(notes) back, but his return isn’t as certain.

Jones has missed Atlanta’s last two games with an injured right knee. An MRI exam over the weekend showed a small tear in the knee, but the six-time All-Star said that if he continues to improve, he’ll try to play Tuesday. If there is persistent pain, however, Jones could need arthroscopic surgery.

Gonzalez also might not want to rush Jones back considering he is 1 for 19 in six games against the Astros since 2009. He is also hitless in eight at-bats against scheduled Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (2-3, 3.98 ERA) since 2008.

Rodriguez gave up three runs and a season high-tying 10 hits in seven innings of Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Cincinnati but didn’t get a decision. The Astros have won each of Rodriguez’s last three starts with the left-hander recording a 2.05 ERA. They were 1-4 in his first five starts, when his ERA was 5.40.

Rodriguez is 2-2 with a 4.21 ERA in nine career appearances against the Braves, but 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in four starts in Atlanta, where he has never lasted longer than 5 1-3 innings.

The Braves counter with Derek Lowe(notes) (3-3, 3.73), who gave up five runs and five hits - including two homers - in six innings of Thursday’s 6-5, 10-inning win over Washington.

The right-handed sinkerballer, who took a no-hitter into the seventh against Philadelphia in his previous start, had surrendered two home runs in 44 2-3 innings this season. Lowe, who has won his last three starts against the Astros, should have better luck keeping the ball in the park against a Houston team that has an NL-low 24 homers.

The Astros lost for the ninth time in 12 games Monday, and matched a season low with four hits.

Carlos Lee(notes) had two of those hits, and is batting .400 with two home runs and seven RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak. He is hitting .421 with two homers and four doubles in 38 career at-bats against Lowe.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Rodríguez KC vs. D. Lowe Tex
11-11 Record 9-17
3.49 ERA 5.05
166 K 137
69 BB 70
1.31 WHIP 1.51


Tuesday, May 17