Marlins-Braves Preview

The Associated Press

Ben Sheets may already be the Atlanta Braves' best - and thriftiest - acquisition.

Sheets looks to win a fourth start in a row for the first time in over four years and help the Braves extend their win streak to a season-high eight Wednesday night against the new-look Miami Marlins.

Atlanta (59-44) made one major deal prior to Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson and cash from the Chicago Cubs for right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino, a top prospect who had season-ending Tommy John surgery in April.

Maholm is expected to start Saturday against Houston after Tommy Hanson was put on the disabled list with a strained lower back Tuesday.

Sheets (3-0, 0.50 ERA) has already made a major impact for Atlanta, which has won seven straight for the second time in July to pull within 2 1/2 games of NL East-leading Washington.

He's won all three of his starts after signing a minor league contract July 1. The right-hander had been sidelined for nearly two years due to a torn flexor tendon and torn ligament in his throwing elbow.

Sheets last won four consecutive starts with Milwaukee from April 6-29, 2008, and he pulled closer to matching that run with Friday's 6-1 win over Philadelphia. He allowed his only run of the season and yielded six hits in six innings.

"I mean, I'm on a very good team and the guys are doing the heavy pulling," Sheets said. "I'm just trying to put in a little two cents myself, trying to help us out."

He'll now face the Marlins (47-56) for the first time since fanning seven in six scoreless innings of a win on June 3, 2007.

Atlanta has won eight of the last nine meetings with Miami, taking the first two of this four-game set by a combined 15-3 score after Tuesday's 7-1 victory.

Brian McCann has three hits and two RBIs in this series, including a solo homer Tuesday. He's connected for half of his 18 homers while driving in 21 runs over the last 18 games.

"I've been feeling good for a while," said McCann, who owns a .338 average with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his last 17 home meetings with the Marlins.

Miami's deals prior to Tuesday's deadline have it looking toward the future.

The Marlins sent reliever Edward Mujica to St. Louis for minor league third baseman Zack Cox, a first-round draft pick in 2010. First baseman Gaby Sanchez, who lost his job earlier this year and was sent to the minors, was dealt to Pittsburgh for minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick.

President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Miami is building a nucleus for the future. The club had already traded star third baseman Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and sent infielder Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to Detroit last week.

Guillen has made another change, moving struggling Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen and replacing him with Wade LeBlanc (1-1, 1.15), who is expected to get his first start.

Zambrano went 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA in his last nine starts before allowing one run with three strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings of relief in Monday's 8-2 loss to Atlanta.

LeBlanc, who had made 11 relief appearances this season, is 17-21 with a 4.47 ERA in 52 career starts over the past four years with San Diego.

The left-hander lost his only career start against the Braves on July 20, 2010, allowing two runs with four walks in six innings at Turner Field. He's faced them twice out of the bullpen this year, yielding two runs in 2 2-3 innings.

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