Brandon Beachy doesn't believe he's reached the level that helped him possess the majors' best ERA at the time of his injury last season, though his most recent outing proves he may be getting closer.
He'll try to beat the Philadelphia Phillies for the first time in nine tries - and second this month - while helping the Atlanta Braves to a sixth straight series win Wednesday night at Turner Field.
Beachy (1-0, 5.00 ERA) had a baseball-best 2.00 ERA when he tore a ligament in his pitching elbow June 16, 2012, forcing him to undergo Tommy John surgery. It has been a difficult recovery, but it appears Beachy is beginning to get settled.
The right-hander allowed three hits in eight innings of Friday's 5-0 win over Miami after posting a 9.00 ERA through his first two outings. He picked up his first victory since pitching a five-hit shutout against the Marlins on May 17, 2012.
"I still have a lot of room for improvement with the curveball and especially the slider," Beachy said. "Fortunately I was able to command the (fastball and change-up) well enough to where I can get by and continue to work on the others and hopefully piece it all together, little by little, each start."
Beachy's second start this season came against Philadelphia on Aug. 3, when he allowed four runs - three earned - in 6 1-3 innings before the Braves won 5-4 in 12. He's 0-3 with a 3.77 ERA in eight career starts versus the Phillies, who took the series opener 5-1 before Atlanta (73-47) responded with a 3-1 win Tuesday.
Chris Johnson, leading the NL with a .337 average, hit a two-run homer for the East-leading Braves, who have split four games following their 14-game winning streak. They haven't lost a series since splitting a four-game set with the New York Mets from July 22-25.
Atlanta got a solid performance from starter Kris Medlen on Tuesday that helped bring the team's ERA to 3.21, which ranks second in the majors.
"Every one of these (pitchers), it seems like every time they go out there it's like they're trying to prove something," Johnson said. "They're doing an amazing job and we're winning because of them."
Johnson has three homers and nine RBIs in his last seven games against Philadelphia (53-66), which has dropped 18 of 22 while scoring two runs or fewer 12 times.
Chase Utley went 3 for 4 on Tuesday and scored the lone run on Domonic Brown's RBI single in the sixth.
The Phillies, whose 4.25 ERA ranks among the worst in the NL, will send John Lannan to the mound Wednesday.
Lannan (3-5, 4.81) opposed Beachy earlier this month, giving up four runs - two earned - in 4 1-3 innings. That outing is part of his current four-start stretch in which he's 1-2 with a 7.52 ERA.
The left-hander allowed a career worst-tying eight runs in five innings of Friday's 9-2 loss to Washington.
"This wasn't a great day," Lannan said after his latest outing. "There were times when I thought I found something I could kind of build off of, but then I kind of lost it."
Lannan is plenty familiar with the Braves, having pitched in the NL East his entire seven-year career. He's 6-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 lifetime starts against them.
Jason Heyward is 1 for 11 in his career off Lannan, but he is 4 for 8 in this series and hitting .480 over his last six games.