Atlanta (89-68) at Washington (76-80)

Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC, US
Temp: 58° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 24, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A victory in the opener of their final regular-season road series has the Atlanta Braves breathing a little easier for the moment.

The Braves look to take a another step toward clinching the NL wild card Saturday afternoon against the Washington Nationals.

After losing two of three each to the New York Mets and Florida in its previous two series, Atlanta (89-68) regrouped to win 7-4 at Washington on Friday. More importantly for the Braves, their wild-card lead increased to three games after St. Louis lost to the Chicago Cubs later in the evening.

Dan Uggla(notes) had three hits with two RBIs and Brian McCann(notes) also drove in two runs as the Braves moved a step closer to their second straight wild card.

“Good, good momentum boost,” veteran third baseman Chipper Jones(notes) said.

Though Uggla is batting just .234 this season, he’s 15 for 36 (.417) with nine RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak versus Washington.

Scheduled Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy(notes) (7-2, 3.58 ERA) looks to get back on track after posting a 5.06 ERA and getting no decisions in his last four starts - all Braves losses - since beating the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 25.

The rookie right-hander has yielded four runs in each of his last two starts, the most recent coming Sunday when he struck out eight but also matched a season high with five walks over 4 1-3 innings of a 7-5 loss to the Mets. His 160 strikeouts this season set a post-1900 franchise mark for a rookie.

“At this point, that (record) means next to nothing to me,” Beachy told the Braves’ official website. “I’ve pitched really poorly my last several outings.”

He pitched just well enough to beat Washington on the road Aug. 3, yielding four runs in five innings of a 6-4 victory.

Jayson Werth(notes) homered off Beachy in that contest and is 3 for 8 with a double against him overall. He homered and drove in two runs Friday, but couldn’t prevent the Nationals (76-80) from having their five-game winning streak snapped.

Werth has a been disappointment overall during his first season in Washington, batting .232 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs, but he’s hitting .381 (8 for 21) with three home runs and five RBIs in his last six games versus Atlanta.

Washington’s Chien-Ming Wang(notes) (3-3, 4.31) makes his 11th and final start of a respectable abbreviated comeback season from 2009 shoulder surgery.

“Hopefully I can come back here, but the decision is made by the team,” Wang told the Nationals’ official website. “But personally I would like to come back. I really appreciate their patience the last two years. Hopefully in the future I can win more games for them.”

The right-hander won for the first time in six starts when he allowed three runs on two homers in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-3 victory over Florida on Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA against the Braves this season.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Beachy LAD vs. C. Wang KC
7-3 Record 4-3
3.68 ERA 4.04
169 K 25
46 BB 13
1.21 WHIP 1.28