Braves-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

One inevitability in the major leagues is that even All-Stars and clubs with championship expectations will go through slumps.

It's part of the reason Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't worried about Julio Teheran's latest tough outing and why he wasn't too concerned about Atlanta's offense struggling over the last week.

Teheran seeks another outstanding performance against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday as Atlanta looks to take two of three at Wrigley Field.

Teheran (8-6, 2.57 ERA) went 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA over his previous four starts before giving up five runs and a season-worst 11 hits in just 3 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 8-3 loss to the New York Mets, tying the shortest start of his career.

The right-hander, who gave up a homer on his second pitch, had reached at least the seventh in his previous seven outings. He is a first-time All-Star in his second full season, and Gonzalez isn't worried about him bouncing back from a rare off performance.

"It's just one of those starts," the manager said. "The young man, he's bound to have a bad one every now and then. If you go out there 35 times, you're going to have a bad one, and (Tuesday) was one of his bad ones."

Teheran was stellar against the Cubs on May 9, allowing only a Mike Olt solo homer in the third and striking out nine over eight innings of Atlanta's 3-2, 10-inning victory.

The Braves (51-43), who are neck-and-neck with Washington atop the NL East, busted out of their funk Saturday. Chris Johnson homered twice, pitcher Mike Minor hit a solo shot, and Justin Upton added a three-run double as part of a six-run fourth in an 11-6 win.

Atlanta totaled 15 runs with no homers while dropping five of its previous six.

"It's one of those days at Wrigley when you get the ball up in the air and the ball keeps traveling," Johnson said. "It's a tough place on days like this. We were able to get enough."

Chris Coghlan, 5 for 11 with four doubles over his last three, drove in three runs for the Cubs (40-53), who have lost seven of nine. They've also dropped 10 of the last 12 meetings with Atlanta and will send Travis Wood to the mound Sunday.

Wood (7-7, 4.64) has gone 0-2 with a 5.31 ERA over four starts since taking a no-hitter into the sixth and pitching eight innings June 15 in a 3-0 win over Philadelphia.

The left-hander allowed four runs - three earned - in 5 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 4-2 loss in the first game of a doubleheader with Cincinnati. He also walked two to bring his total since May 7 to 38 - tied for second-most in the NL in that time.

"You always learn more when you see your faults and you see how they're going against you, instead of when everything is running smoothly and you're riding a high horse," said Wood, an All-Star last season. "You see what you need to work on (and) build (to) get the confidence back up."

Wood's only start against Atlanta came Sept. 21, when he gave up one run and struck out seven in seven innings in the Cubs' 3-1 win.

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