As the Atlanta Braves look to win consecutive games for the first time in more than two weeks, they also hope to provide a positive result for Aaron Harang.
Though the Braves have lost Harang's last five starts, the right-hander looks for a third straight strong outing while trying to help them earn a split of their four-game set with the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday.Andrelton Simmons had two RBIs in his return from a six-game absence with an ankle injury, and Craig Kimbrel forced a game-ending double play with the bases loaded to give Atlanta (61-59) a 3-2 victory Wednesday."It's nice to get a win," outfielder Justin Upton said. "We had to work for this one, so it was nice to see."The Braves are 3-3 following a season-high eight-game skid, but haven't won two in a row since taking three straight against San Diego from July 26-28.The victory was Atlanta's first in six games this season versus Los Angeles (69-53), which is 5-3 on a nine-game trip.Ex-Dodger Harang (9-6, 3.31 ERA) is 4-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his last eight starts, but has gone five straight without a decision. Though the Braves have dropped all five, Harang has overcome 33 hits and 12 walks to allow nine runs over 32 innings during that stretch.His teammates have totaled nine runs with him on the mound in those five."I've gone out there and done what I need to do to give us a chance to win," he said. "We've just run into some bad luck and haven't been able to pull some of those out. That's part of baseball."Harang gave up a solo homer in the sixth and lasted seven during a 4-1, 11-inning loss to Washington on Saturday."He's phenomenal," first baseman Freddie Freeman told MLB's official website. "He does it every five days. He goes out there, he's a veteran guy and he just battles all night long."Harang, who went 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 starts for the Dodgers in 2012, allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings of an 8-4 loss July 29 in his first appearance against them since leaving Los Angeles.Yasiel Puig went 3 for 3 with a double and a triple versus Harang in that contest, while Matt Kemp was 2 for 3 with a homer against him.Kemp, who hit into the game-ending double play Wednesday, is a career .368 hitter with two home runs versus Harang.Adrian Gonzalez is 8 for 20 with two doubles and three homers against him.Los Angeles' Carl Crawford is 10 for 16 with three RBIs in four games.Acquired from Philadelphia last Thursday, Roberto Hernandez (6-8, 3.83) looks to build on a solid Dodgers debut. He allowed two runs and three hits in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 9-3 loss at Milwaukee on Friday."Yeah, impressive," manager Don Mattingly said.In three starts against the Braves this season, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA. He earned that victory in his only career appearance at Turner Field despite allowing five runs, homers to Evan Gattis and Ryan Doumit, and five walks in six innings of a 10-5 win June 18.Gattis' two hits in six at-bats against Hernandez were both home runs.Freeman is batting .410 in his last 10 games, but is 0 for 6 against Hernandez.
Jason Heyward has hit .340 this season in at-bats to end in an offspeed pitch from a right-handed pitcher, the fifth-best rate among qualifiers. Roberto Hernandez has thrown the fourth-highest percentage of changeups among qualified righties this season (24.2 percent).