Marlins-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

For the first time in more than a week, the Atlanta Braves need to rebound from a defeat.

With their seven-game winning streak now in the past, the Braves still have a chance to take their four-game set against the Miami Marlins on Thursday night at Turner Field.

Atlanta (59-45) had outscored opponents 40-11 during its winning streak, which was snapped with a 4-2 loss to Miami on Wednesday. Freddie Freeman had three hits and Reed Johnson went 2 for 4 in his Braves debut, but the team lost for the first time since a three-game skid July 21-23 and only the sixth time in its last 23 contests.

"It stinks when you're riding a long winning streak," said losing pitcher Ben Sheets, who gave up three first-inning runs. "I gave them the momentum right out of the gate. The momentum that we earned over seven games."

The Braves, still sitting in the second wild-card spot in the NL, remained 2 1/2 games behind first-place Washington in the East.

Freeman has helped Atlanta's standing by batting .373 in his last 23 games. He's 8 for 12 with two doubles in this series.

Scheduled Atlanta starter Mike Minor (6-7, 5.18 ERA) has also been hot. He went 2-1 with a 1.98 ERA in four July starts, allowing one run and four hits while striking out nine in eight innings of a 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 24-year-old Minor retired the last 13 batters he faced and seems to have progressed after posting a 6.20 ERA in his first 15 starts of 2012.

"It takes a little time," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's not a finished product by any means. He's heading in that direction pretty quickly and right in front of our eyes."

The left-hander's lone loss last month came at Miami on July 23, although he only yielded two runs in seven innings of a 2-1 defeat. Minor, 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA against the Marlins this season, was roughed up for six runs in 4 2-3 innings of an 8-4 home loss to Miami on May 16.

Jose Reyes is 5 for 13 with a homer versus Minor while teammate Carlos Lee is 3 for 9 with two doubles. Reyes and Lee each had two hits Wednesday as Miami (48-56) ended a seven-game road skid.

Reyes is batting .347 during a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active stretch in the majors. He's hit .429 (12 for 28) in his last seven versus Atlanta.

Seeking a four-game split, the Marlins hand the ball to Nathan Eovaldi (2-6, 3.94 ERA) for the second time. He allowed a run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-2 win over San Diego on Saturday in his first start since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Hanley Ramirez trade.

The 22-year-old right-hander posted a 2.61 ERA in four July outings.

"(Eovaldi) has a great arm," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You can see he's still a baby, can still be polished, but I love his arm and his presence on the mound is very good."

Eovaldi was very good in his only previous appearance against the Braves on Sept. 3, overcoming five walks and allowing only Dan Uggla's solo homer and two other hits over six innings of the Dodgers' 2-1, 10-inning win at Atlanta.

What to Read Next