MIAMI (AP) — Although their rotation has prompted their latest winning streak, the Atlanta Braves needed an offensive boost from an unlikely source to extend the run.
Giving the ball to one of their hottest pitchers should help the Braves resume their dominance on the mound.
Alex Wood looks to win his fourth straight decision and lead Atlanta to its seventh straight win Sunday night when they host the Miami Marlins.
B.J. Upton matched a season high with four hits, including a walk-off single in the 11th inning, as the Braves beat the Marlins 5-4 on Saturday for their 18th win in 21 games at Turner Field. Upton, batting a career-low .195, also hit his first home run since June 15 after going 4 for 40 in his previous 16 games.
“I’ve been working hard all year and I’m finally starting to see some consistent results,” Upton said. “I’ve just got to keep playing and keep working hard and stick to what I’m doing.”
Teammate Chris Johnson reclaimed the top spot in the NL batting race with four hits, raising his average to .331. He’s hitting .414 in eight home games against the Marlins.
The Braves (83-52), who lead the NL East by 15 games, have scored only 20 runs during their winning streak. Their starters, though, have compensated by posting a 1.62 ERA.
Now they’ll turn to Wood (3-2, 2.27 ERA), who seeks his second victory during the streak after limiting Cleveland to five hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 2-0 victory on Tuesday. He struck out five, but had a season-high four walks.
“(It) wasn’t one of his best outings,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He was spraying it around a little bit and got his pitch count up, but he’s tough to take swings at.”
The rookie left-hander has been one of the Atlanta’s top hurlers recently, going 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA with 35 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .203 batting average in his last six starts.
Wood has been particularly tough at home, going 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 28 strikeouts in his last four outings.
He’s thrown nine shutout innings versus the Marlins – who have lost seven straight and 10 of 11 – in one start and three overall appearances this year. Wood fanned seven and gave up two hits over six innings on Aug. 10 before Miami pushed across a run in the ninth for a 1-0 victory.
Nathan Eovaldi (2-5, 3.76) outpitched Wood in that contest, striking out eight while allowing one hit over seven frames. He’s given up just two runs and nine hits with 21 strikeouts in his last three starts against the Braves.
The right-hander, however, is 0-5 with a 4.30 ERA while receiving just six total runs of support over his last eight starts. Eovaldi lost his third straight start Tuesday, giving up two runs and eight hits in six innings of a 2-1 defeat at Washington.
Although Justin Ruggiano and Giancarlo Stanton hit home runs Saturday, the Marlins have averaged 2.0 runs while batting .176 during their losing streak. They rank last in the majors in average (.228) and runs (424).
“We need to come back tomorrow and act as if we’ve been winning,” said Ruggiano, who is hitting .400 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his last 12 games. “We’ve just got to get over this little funk we’re in right now.”
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