Blue Jays-Braves Preview

NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves are probably big supporters of interleague play. They must especially love matchups with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Braves look to continue their success against the AL by beating the Blue Jays for an eighth consecutive meeting Saturday at Turner Field.

Atlanta (33-25) won its fifth straight and seventh in eight games when Jason Heyward stole third and scored on catcher J.P. Arencibia's throwing error in the 10th inning of a 4-3 victory in Friday night's series opener.

The Braves have won 12 of their last 14 interleague games, including four consecutive victories over Toronto (30-28) to extend their win streak in the series to seven - all at home.

Heyward is 5 for 15 with two doubles, two RBIs and three runs in four career meetings with the Blue Jays. There was no sign from third base coach Brian Snitker for Heyward to steal third.

''It was all on my own,'' Heyward said. ''I knew I had a great chance at taking a base and putting some pressure on them and they ended up throwing it away.''

Heyward's confidence may be coming from a strong stretch at the plate. He's 8 for 21 with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs during the Braves' winning streak after managing that many hits over 42 at-bats in the previous 13 contests.

The Braves are expected to turn to Tommy Hanson (6-4, 3.71 ERA), who faces Toronto for the first time while trying to get off to a better start.

The only runs the right-hander gave up Sunday came on solo homers to the first two batters he faced, and he went on to allow four more hits before leaving after seven innings in a 3-2 win at Washington.

"I just tried to keep on strong and keep us in the game," Hanson said.

He's won three of four interleague starts with a 2.05 ERA at Turner Field.

Hanson won his first interleague matchup this season on May 18, allowing two runs in seven innings of a 5-3 victory at Tampa Bay.

The Blue Jays, losers of seven of nine on the road, will give the ball to Drew Hutchison (5-2, 4.35) hoping he can win a third consecutive start.

The rookie right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his last five starts, yielding one run and eight hits with 14 strikeouts over 14 innings in his past two.

He was impressive again Sunday, limiting Boston to one run and five hits in seven innings of a 5-1 victory.

"Hutch continues to mature right in front of us," manager John Farrell said. "He kept going, kept putting up zeros, kept the momentum on our side."

Hutchison, however, has struggled at times in five road outings, going 2-2 with a 6.31 ERA. That includes his most recent appearance outside Toronto on May 22, when he was tagged for a season-worst six runs and seven hits in four innings of an 8-5 loss at Tampa Bay.