Pirates-Braves Preview

A.J. Burnett

The Pirates open a three-game series in Atlanta on Monday night. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will be on the mound for the Bucs. The Braves will counter with right-hander Kris Medlen.

After watching the Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup show some spark, A.J. Burnett is hoping for similar hitting from his teammates when on the mound.

The Atlanta Braves' Kris Medlen likely has the same wish for some more support as each pitcher tries to end lengthy winless stretches in Monday night's series opener in Atlanta.

The Pirates (35-22) had scored one run in three games before a 5-4 win in 11 innings against Cincinnati on Sunday. Pittsburgh went 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position in that victory, including Travis Snider's game-winning single, after going 0 for 10 in back-to-back shutout losses to the Reds.

"I haven't been getting many big hits lately and I put everything I had into that swing," said Garrett Jones, whose eighth-inning homer tied the game. "It felt pretty good. I wasn't expecting to hit the ball in the river, which was pretty cool, but it was great to come through and give us a chance to win.''

Burnett (3-5, 2.72 ERA) is hoping to see the Pirates duplicate that effort while helping him end a five-game winless stretch. The right-hander has gone 0-3 with a 2.91 ERA in that span and has been given just six runs of support.

Burnett has had similar issues when facing Atlanta (34-22). He's 1-6 with a 3.62 ERA in his last 10 matchups and has been given a combined 10 runs of support.

Burnett is 0-6 with a 4.44 ERA in his last nine starts in Atlanta and 1-8 with a 4.88 ERA in 12 career games there. He's received three runs or fewer in each of those starts.

In this one, he'll pitch opposite Medlen (1-6, 3.48), who is 0-5 with a 3.93 ERA since a 3-2 win over Miami on April 9. The right-hander has gotten a combined 15 runs in those nine starts and three runs in his last four.

Medlen took the loss in a 3-0 defeat to Toronto on Wednesday despite leaving after two innings. He suffered a bruised calf when he took a line drive off his left leg.

"I've been hit by a lot of balls in my life. That's one of the harder ones I've felt," he said. "I knew right away (that he'd have to leave the game), but I at least wanted get through the inning."

Medlen is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates and suffered the loss in his only matchup this season. He gave up three runs over six innings in a 4-2 defeat April 21, the finale of a four-game series in Pittsburgh.

The Braves dropped the final three games in that set, but it appears the Upton brothers might be ready to help Atlanta try to win this series.

B.J. Upton, batting just .156 with five home runs this season, hit a solo homer in a 6-3 win over Washington on Sunday after going 2 for 4 and driving in the winning run in a 2-1 victory in 10 innings the previous day.

"Good for him," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "His at-bats keep getting better and better and better. That's the B.J. Upton that we want to see. It's good that he's coming along.

"Hopefully he'll run off 10 or 12 games like this."

Justin Upton had three hits in Sunday's win after going 1 for 20 in his previous five games. He's 2 for 2 with a solo homer lifetime against Burnett, but B.J. Upton is 9 for 44 (.205) with 17 strikeouts.

The Braves and Pirates have split their last two series in Atlanta, both four-game sets.

PiratesDugout.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Tweets