Cardinals-Braves Preview


The Atlanta Braves have been homering with regularity over the last week and they finally benefited from a couple of deep drives to end their longest losing streak in two years.

Relying on the long ball again might not work against the St. Louis Cardinals' Kyle Lohse in Wednesday's series finale at Turner Field.

The Braves (27-24) snapped an eight-game skid - the franchise's longest since April 2010 - with a 5-4 win over the Cardinals (27-23) on Tuesday, as Dan Uggla hit a three-run homer and Michael Bourn had a solo shot.

"Everyone knows how bad we've been scuffling,'' Uggla said. "When you get that first one, it eases the tension, eases the pressure. We know what it feels like to win again. It was obviously a big night for us.''

Other than the two homers, however, the Braves managed three other hits - all singles - and four walks.

That's pretty much been the way Atlanta's offense has operated since the start of the skid. In the last nine games, the Braves are batting .178 with 10 of their 50 hits leaving the park.

It seems unlikely they'll get many pitches to send deep against Lohse (5-1, 2.90 ERA), who has surrendered four homers in 62 innings and one in his six road starts.

Tim Hudson (3-2, 4.12), who will oppose Lohse in the finale, is ironically one of the two players on Atlanta's active roster to have homered off the right-hander. Dan Uggla is 4 for 12 with the one homer against Lohse, who is 3-1 with a 4.56 ERA in nine career starts against the Braves.

Hudson is 0-3 with a 7.09 ERA in his last six starts versus St. Louis.

He's coming off an uneven performance against Washington on Friday, yielding four first-inning runs and three in the seventh before being chased - with none in the five frames in between of the 7-4 loss. Hudson had given up three runs over 21 2-3 innings in his previous three starts.

It doesn't appear Hudson will have many easy outs Wednesday considering several Cardinals have given him problems.

Yadier Molina is 6 for 12 with a double and five walks against Hudson, Matt Holliday is 7 for 21 and Carlos Beltran is batting .351 with four homers, four doubles and nine walks in 74 career at-bats against the three-time All-Star.

Those three carried St. Louis' offense Tuesday, combining to go 8 for 12 and scoring all four runs. It wasn't enough, however, as the Cardinals lost for the fourth time in six games.

Holliday finished with two hits for his third straight multihit game, while Molina went 4 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs. Molina has been locked in at the plate, batting .560 with three home runs and 12 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.

He was behind the plate for Lohse's last game, a 4-3, 10-inning loss to Philadelphia on Friday. Lohse, who allowed three runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, didn't have a strikeout or a walk - the first major league pitcher to do so while going at least four innings this season.

A lack of free passes from Lohse has been fairly common. He's had four games this season without issuing a base on balls and his ratio of 1.31 walks per nine innings is fourth-best in the majors.