Dodgers-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

Perhaps a little time at home was all the Atlanta Braves needed to emerge from their recent slump.

One night after rallying for a victory, the Braves look to squeeze another win from the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field on Saturday night.

Atlanta, which played 26 of 34 on the road before starting this three-game set, came home having lost five of six to end a 10-game trip. The Braves hit .210 and scored just 2.8 runs per game over that six-game stretch.

They've been much better at home, improving to 10-5 there with an 8-5 win over the Dodgers on Friday. Atlanta scored six times over the sixth and seven innings to erase a two-run deficit.

The Braves, at long last, have all of their top hitters available. Right fielder Jason Heyward reached base three times and scored twice in his return from an emergency appendectomy. It marked his first action since April 20, after which he hit the disabled list with a paltry .121 batting average.

Friday marked the first time this season that Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann and Heyward, who have all been on the DL, were on the field together.

"We've played 40 games and it's the first time we've had the lineup we talked about all winter," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Atlanta (23-18) still could use more help from its rotation, which has a 6.32 ERA over the last seven games. No Braves starter has made it through the seventh inning since May 9.

Among the Braves pitchers looking for a rebound performance is Saturday's starter, Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.44 ERA). He gave up season highs of three homers and five walks against San Francisco on Sunday, surrendering five runs - three earned - and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss.

It was just the second time in eight starts an opponent scored more than three runs off Medlen, but he remains stuck on one win - April 9 at Miami - partly because his run support average of 2.72 is among baseball's worst. Atlanta has lost his last five starts.

Medlen, though, has a good history against the Dodgers, going 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in six games. He's handled Matt Kemp well, allowing just a double in seven at-bats while striking him out four times.

Kemp saw his 14-game hitting streak end Friday. He's 3 for 35 in his last 10 games in Atlanta.

The Dodgers (17-23), who had won four of five before Friday, look to get back on track with Chris Capuano (1-2, 6.60) on the mound. The left-hander is coming off his first win and easily his best performance, throwing just 79 pitches and yielding one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory over Miami.

That came six days after he was ripped for six runs in four innings of a loss to Arizona following a three-week stint on the disabled list for a strained left calf.

"It's been a bit of a nightmare the past week. It's nice to wake up from it," Capuano said. "I was trying to watch some of the good games I had last year, look at what I did to be successful and try to stick with my strengths instead of worrying about getting to the hitters' weaknesses."

Capuano has been very successful versus the Braves lately, going 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA in his last eight starts against them.

However, this will be his first time facing Justin Upton in an Atlanta uniform, and he's gone 5 for 14 with a homer off Capuano. Upton hit a grand slam Friday for his major league-leading 14th homer.

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