Atlanta (78-53) at Chicago (57-73)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Thu Aug 25, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Although the Braves had some success against Chicago’s Matt Garza(notes) in Atlanta earlier this month, the right-hander has been extremely tough on opponents lately at Wrigley Field.

One bit of good news for the Braves, however, is that the Cubs rarely win those games.

Atlanta looks to bounce back from its first loss in seven contests Thursday when it faces Garza, who is coming off his first home victory in nearly two months.

Chipper Jones(notes) and Alex Gonzalez(notes) each homered for the Braves (78-53) on Wednesday against the Cubs, but the team managed just one other hit - a Martin Prado(notes) single - in losing 3-2, snapping a six-game winning streak.

“I don’t think this loss is going to stay with us very long, especially the way we’ve been playing,” said losing pitcher Derek Lowe(notes).

Atlanta, which remained 6 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Philadelphia, has only lost four of its last 17 games, but three of those defeats have come to the Cubs (57-73).

Garza (6-9, 3.62 ERA) started one of those Chicago victories, although he didn’t get credit for the decision.

In his first career outing against the Braves on Aug. 14, Garza yielded four runs - two earned - and six hits in five innings of Chicago’s 6-5 comeback win. Michael Bourn(notes) went 3 for 3 off Garza, and is 7 for 14 against him in his career.

Dan Uggla(notes) was hitless in that game, ending his 33-game hitting streak.

Following that outing, Garza allowed five hits and struck out eight in seven innings of Saturday’s 3-0 win over St. Louis, his first victory at Wrigley since June 27.

Despite that drought, the right-hander has been at his best lately at the Friendly Confines. In six starts at Wrigley since July 1, he has the majors’ third-best home ERA at 1.47, but a lack of run support has left him with a 1-2 record with the Cubs losing four times.

“He’s pitching better than his record indicates,” said red-hot third baseman Aramis Ramirez(notes).

Ramirez is batting .560 with four homers and 14 RBIs during a season-high 13-game hitting streak, and has reached base in 30 of his last 45 plate appearances. The Braves were careful pitching to him Wednesday, walking him his first two times up.

Ramirez had two hits Aug. 14 against Brandon Beachy(notes) (6-2, 3.32), who will oppose Garza again. Beachy permitted two runs and six hits while striking out eight in 5 1-3 innings against the Cubs.

In his next start against Arizona on Saturday, the right-hander gave up one run and four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings of an 8-1 win. He is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his last six starts, striking out 39 in 36 1-3 innings.

Starlin Castro(notes) went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Beachy en route to an 0-for-5 performance Aug. 14, but he has hit safely in 20 of 22 games, batting .340 in that stretch.

Jones’ homer Wednesday was his 13th, and he is 11 for 23 with three home runs during a six-game hitting streak.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Beachy Atl vs. M. Garza Mil
7-3 Record 10-10
3.68 ERA 3.32
169 K 197
46 BB 63
1.21 WHIP 1.26


Thursday, Aug 25