Braves-White Sox Preview

The Associated Press

After getting two players back in the lineup this weekend, the Atlanta Braves are hoping to get even healthier for their series finale against the Chicago White Sox.

Jason Heyward is expected to make his first start in a little more than a week and will try to help the Braves begin to get on track Sunday.

Atlanta (55-42) had four regulars out of the lineup at the end of its last series, but Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman have returned during this one. Freeman homered and drove in three runs Saturday but couldn't lead the Braves to a victory in his first start since July 13.

The White Sox (38-56) scored nine runs in the third and fourth innings in a 10-6 victory. Alex Rios hit a grand slam and drove in a season-high five runs in breaking out of a 2-for-20 slump.

Rios' performance came after he was pulled from Friday's 6-4 loss for not running hard to first base. The victory was the 10th in 32 games for Chicago while Atlanta fell for the eighth time in 14 contests.

The Braves have alternated losses and wins in the past seven games.

Heyward's expected return from a strained hamstring could help change his team's fortunes. The outfielder, batting .290 in his last 36 games after hitting .142 in his first 31, was injured July 11.

Heyward said he could have played Saturday but decided to give himself an extra day to be certain he was ready.

"(On Friday), I let (manager Fredi Gonzalez) know that if I felt like I could play (Saturday), then Sunday would be the smartest and he agreed," he told the team's official website. "You have to be careful. I've been fortunate enough to avoid the (disabled list) and I don't want to see the DL with this, because it's something that can nag at you for a long time if you don't let it get right."

Mike Minor (9-4, 3.02 ERA) will try to make Heyward's return a winning one while building on a victory in his last start. The left-hander gave up two runs over seven innings and struck out seven in a 5-2 win over Cincinnati on July 13, his first in six outings.

Minor recovered after needing 51 pitches through the first two innings, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the first.

"I feel like I've been in that situation a lot this year and battled through it," he said. "Hopefully, it doesn't happen anymore the rest of the season."

In his first start against the White Sox, Minor will be opposed by Jose Quintana, who will face the Braves for the first time.

Quintana (4-2, 3.71) earned his first win in nine starts June 9 in Detroit but couldn't follow with another victory last Sunday. He gave up three runs in six innings - two in the first - in a 4-3, 10-inning defeat, needing a Chicago comeback to avoid his first loss in nine outings.

"Once he gets past that first inning, for one reason or another, he gets in a little trouble in the first and then after that he gets stronger," manager Robin Ventura told the team's website.

Gerald Laird, the only current Brave to face Quintana, is 2 for 5 against the left-hander.

Jeff Keppinger is the only White Sox player to get a hit off Minor, going 2 for 6 with a double.

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