Paul Maholm's first outing after coming off the disabled list didn't go quite as well as he would have liked, but returning to the mound at Turner Field may be just what he needs.
Already with the best home record in the majors, the Atlanta Braves get Dan Uggla back in the lineup as they look to deal the playoff-hopeful Cleveland Indians another defeat Wednesday night.
Maholm (9-10, 4.51 ERA) made his first start in more than a month Thursday and allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss to St. Louis. He didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning but began to feel fatigued in the fifth.
"It was good to get out there and compete,'' Maholm said after pitching for the first time since leaving a loss to the Chicago White Sox on July 20 with a bruised left wrist. "Hopefully in five days, I'll be able to make some adjustments and get back out there.''
The left-hander has lost his last four starts while posting a 9.16 ERA, though each was on the road. Maholm is 5-2 with a 1.93 ERA in seven home starts this season, allowing two earned runs or fewer in each outing.
Atlanta (79-52), which leads the NL East by 13 games over Washington, improved its baseball-best home record to 45-18 with a 2-0 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday. The Braves only had three hits, but Elliot Johnson's two-run triple in the second inning did the damage.
Uggla, who last played Aug. 12, went 1 for 30 in his last nine games before undergoing corrective eye surgery, but he went 2 for 4 with a homer in a rehab game for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday.
Uggla struck out in his only career plate appearance against Justin Masterson, who takes the mound for Cleveland.
Masterson (14-9, 3.50) went 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA over his previous three starts before allowing one run in 6 2-3 innings of last Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels. He tied his season high with five walks, though, and has allowed a total of 70 - the third-most in the AL.
Teammate Nick Swisher still has been impressed with the right-hander.
"He's an All-Star for us, man," Swisher told the team's official website. "His numbers speak for themselves. This dude's doing it, man. I'm so happy I don't have to face him anymore."
Masterson has never started against the Braves, making only two relief appearances against them in 2009 while with Boston. He'll look to help Cleveland bounce back from only its second loss in seven contests.
The Indians (71-60) fell three games behind Oakland for the AL's second wild-card spot after the Athletics beat Detroit 6-3 in a six-inning, rain-shortened contest.
Asdrubal Cabrera had half of the team's six hits Tuesday.
"Our pitching's been on point, but you've got to score to win,'' former Brave Michael Bourn said. "You can't score zero runs and win the game. We've got to find a way to put some runs on the board and help our pitchers out.''
Atlanta has won 14 of 17 at home after snapping Cleveland's three-game road winning streak Tuesday.