Oakland's Sonny Gray and Atlanta's Julio Teheran are two of the top young pitchers in baseball, but both are mired in the longest slides of their careers.
Each right-hander will try to avoid losing a fourth straight start Saturday night when the Braves look to hand the major league-leading Athletics a fourth consecutive defeat.Gray (12-6, 2.86 ERA) has a 4.42 ERA in his last three starts, but has been backed by two runs total while on the mound during that stretch. After giving up seven runs, 10 hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings of a 7-3 home loss to Tampa Bay on Aug. 6, Gray walked three and yielded three runs in seven innings of a 3-2 defeat at Kansas City on Monday."It's always going to be one mistake," he said, "and unfortunately for us I was the one who made the mistake."The Braves (62-60) have scored five runs with Teheran (10-9, 3.06) on the mound in his last three. However, he's allowed 11 runs and 18 hits in 13 1/3 innings of his last two. He gave up five in 7 1/3 innings of a 6-2 home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday."I thought (Teheran) pitched better than what his line showed," manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB's official website.Freddie Freeman's three-run homer was one of four hit by Atlanta (62-60) in Friday's 7-2 victory. Justin Upton and Evan Gattis also went deep for the Braves, who are 4-4 since a season-high eight-game skid but haven't won consecutive contests since taking three straight against San Diego from July 26-28.Atlanta is six games behind first-place Washington in the NL East, but very much in the wild-card mix."Everyone wants to say we can't panic, but we've got to go," Freeman said." The time is now."Oakland (73-49), meanwhile, has dropped five of six and holds a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West. Nate Freiman's two-run homer in the fourth inning was one of four hits Friday for the A's, who have scored eight runs in their last five defeats."We're just going through a tough time right now," said Oakland manager Bob Melvin, whose team dropped a season-high four straight May 22-25. "You start to press a little bit offensively and it can be contagious as a group. You start swinging at some pitches out of the zone."We're pretty good about looking for our pitch and waiting for it. We haven't been as good here recently."A's All-Star Josh Donaldson is 0 for 7 in two games since he batted .400 during a 10-game hitting streak.Freeman is batting .485 with two home runs, seven RBIs and six runs in his last nine contests.Upton, who was in the lineup after leaving Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Dodgers with a mild left hamstring strain, is hitting .316 with two homers and seven RBIs in his last six games."It's one of those things," Gonzalez said of Upton's injury. "He's had it before. It flares up on him a little bit."