Brewers-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

Freddy Garcia seems to like life in the NL East.

The veteran right-hander will try to apply his success against the slumping Atlanta Braves' own division to the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.

He'll also look to keep the Braves (92-64) ahead in the fight for home-field advantage in the postseason. Atlanta leads St. Louis by a one-half game for the NL's best record.

Garcia (4-7, 4.52 ERA) has a 0.94 ERA against the NL East this season and a 6.80 ERA against all other opponents.

Garcia struggled during his tenure with Baltimore, posting a 5.77 ERA in 11 appearances. A mid-August trade has seemingly sparked Garcia, who is 1-2 with a 1.31 ERA in five games for the Braves, all coming against NL East foes.

He held Washington to a run over seven innings in a 4-0 loss Tuesday.

"He threw the ball real well," catcher Gerald Laird said. "I remember facing him a lot with Detroit, when he was with the White Sox, and he's one of those guys who keeps you off balance and doesn't make mistakes in the middle of the plate."

On Sept. 3, Atlanta was a 15-9 finish away from its first 100-win season since 2003. Since then, the Braves have gone 7-11 behind an offense that has batted .204 and averaged 3.2 runs per game over that span.

Atlanta was shut out for the third time in eight games Monday, notching three hits in a 5-0 loss to Milwaukee.

The Braves had won eight in a row at home against the Brewers.

Chris Johnson is hitless in his last 10 at-bats with four strikeouts. His average dropped to .327, seven points behind league leader Michael Cuddyer of Colorado.

Jason Heyward is 1 for 11 since returning from a fractured right jaw.

Monday marked the fourth time in six games that the Brewers (70-86) shut out the Braves. Milwaukee has held Atlanta to 10 runs while winning six of seven meetings, dating back to last year.

Tyler Thornburg (3-1, 1.96) would seem to stand a good chance to extend Milwaukee's streak.

The rookie right-hander has a 1.25 ERA in six starts this season and has yet to allow a home run over 36 innings in those games.

"He has been good in relief; he's been really good as a starter," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.

Thornburg was sharp again Wednesday, yielding two hits over six innings in a 7-0 win over the Cubs.

"He's confident," Roenicke said. "He gets a little wild at times and then comes back and makes great pitches. He has three really good pitches: a really good fastball, a good curveball and a great change-up. He can mix in the two off-speed pitches, depending on which is going well that day, and when you can do that and you have a lot of life on your fastball, you'll pitch like he did today."

Despite 356 career starts over 15 years in the majors, Garcia has faced the Brewers just three times, most recently in 2011. He has a 3.26 ERA.

Milwaukee's Aramis Ramirez is 7 for 12 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last three games. He's 8 for 18 lifetime against Garcia with a home run.