Marlins-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

While the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves have dominated the last-place Miami Marlins of late, manager Mike Redmond's club is coming off a rare win in the series.

Pulling out another could prove difficult with a matchup against Julio Teheran in store.

Teheran and the Braves try to get back to their winning ways against the visiting Marlins in Thursday night's series finale.

Atlanta (49-35) had taken 18 of 21 from Miami (31-52) - including eight straight by a 40-10 margin - before falling 6-3 on Wednesday. Justin Ruggiano delivered a go-ahead three-run homer in the fifth inning and Jeff Mathis added a two-run double in the eighth.

Each of Ruggiano's 12 homers have come on the road, tied for the seventh-most consecutive road homers to open a season. The record is 17 by Washington's Goose Goslin in 1926.

Another big offensive effort may be hard to come by against Teheran (6-4, 3.12 ERA). The right-hander, among the major league leaders with a 2.27 ERA since April 23, has allowed two runs or fewer in all but three of 12 outings over that stretch.

"We know what he's capable of," shortstop Andrelton Simmons told MLB's official website. "He looks more confident off the mound, and he's starting to do what he's been doing in the minor leagues for a couple years back, so it's nice to see that."

Teheran has been particularly dominant at home, where he has struck out 29 in 20 scoreless innings during a three-start winning streak. The 22-year-old fanned 10 over six innings of four-hit ball Friday in a 3-0 victory over Arizona.

"He's got swing-and-miss stuff, which is a good thing to have," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We knew that, we saw the arm."

Having never faced Miami, Teheran will need to be careful against Mathis. The veteran catcher, who hit .098 with three RBIs in his first 17 games after debuting May 16 due to a broken collarbone, has since gone 6 for 17 with two homers and 13 RBIs over a five-game stretch.

The Marlins, meanwhile, are looking forward to seeing what they have in Henderson Alvarez. Acquired in November's blockbuster 12-player trade with Toronto, Alvarez is set to make his season debut after missing the first three months with shoulder inflammation in his throwing arm.

"I think there is a little bit of an unknown in how he is going to pitch for us, because we didn't see him pitch much before he got hurt," Redmond said of Alvarez, who will be on an 85-pitch limit. "We'll see how he does and how his pitches are and how much he has to grind."

The 23-year-old right-hander went 10-17 with a 4.52 ERA in 41 starts with the Blue Jays over the previous two years.

"He's another good, live young arm," Mathis said. "He knows how to pitch, and he's had success. He has some innings under his belt at the big league level. We're hoping he can come in and pitch like he is capable of and stay healthy."

The only Braves player with any experience against Alvarez is B.J. Upton, who is 3 for 12 with a double in their matchups. Upton is batting a major league-worst .177, going 1 for 14 with six strikeouts against the Marlins this year.

Despite Wednesday's loss, Atlanta is 21-7 at home since May 5. The Braves have only dropped back-to-back games once over that stretch.

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