Diamondbacks-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves' impressive start to the season was built around elite pitching. Their current run has worked in an unlikely offensive figure as well.

The Braves aim to extend their season-best winning streak to nine games Saturday at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

NL East-leading Atlanta (48-38) has won 10 of 11 and is 10 games over .500 for the first time since April 29.

Along the way, B.J. Upton, batting just .211, has taken over the leadoff spot and matched a career-best 10-game hitting streak, and the team is averaging five runs over eight straight wins.

"It really is contagious," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You see things happening and guys playing situational baseball. I always tell the guys that they're not all game-winning RBIs. The guys that drive in 100 every year - they get them when the defense is giving it to you."

The pitching staff has also done more than its part with a 2.13 ERA. The bullpen has a 0.42 mark over a span of 21 2-3 innings.

At Turner Field, the Diamondbacks (36-52) have dropped four straight and 10 of 11 while scoring 1.91 runs per game. They've also lost four of five overall with two runs or fewer in each defeat.

"We're trying everything we can to turn around things, but it's not happening," third baseman Martin Prado said.

Aaron Harang could provide Arizona with an opportunity to break out.

Harang (7-6, 3.69 ERA) has been one of baseball's more hittable pitchers since his impressive start, allowing a .319 average over his last 12 outings. That's the worst mark in the NL among qualifying pitchers and is ahead of only Texas' Colby Lewis (.345).

The big right-hander got through it and allowed two runs and 11 hits over seven innings of Sunday's 3-2 win in Philadelphia to win his second straight start. His first-year teammates have seen that the veteran keeps them in games even when he's being hit.

"He doesn't panic," Upton told MLB's official website.

That'll come in handy against Arizona as Harang tries to overcome a 0-5 stretch with a 5.92 ERA in his last seven starts against the NL West foe. He faced them in a 6-5 loss on June 8 and was tagged for three runs and four hits while matching a season high with six walks in six innings.

Miguel Montero is 10 for 19 with a home run against Harang, while Paul Goldschmidt is 5 for 11 with two blasts. David Peralta, who is 10 for 18 over five games, went 2 for 3 with a home run in last month's matchup.

Arizona counters with Mike Bolsinger, who seems to have figured some things out in his second big league stint of the season.

After going 1-2 with a 6.08 ERA in four starts and a relief outing in April and May, Bolsinger (1-4, 4.53) has a 2.70 ERA and .214 opponent average in three starts since being recalled on June 17. The right-hander is 0-2 in that time with consecutive losses due in large part to one run of support in 13 2-3 innings.

The rookie held San Diego to two runs and three hits in six innings of Sunday's 2-1 loss, but he issued four walks.

"You've just kind of got to build on every start and that's what I'm trying to do," Bolsinger said. "The only thing that kind of went backwards today was the walks. Hopefully my next start I can eliminate that and keep us in the gameplan."

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