Series: Game 1 of 3

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 8/18)

Game 1: Monday, August 18
Game 2: Tuesday, August 19
Game 3: Wednesday, August 20

Braves 7

(65-60, 28-32 away)

Pirates 3

(64-61, 39-25 home)

    Coverage:  ROOT

    7:05 PM ET, August 18, 2014

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 600000010 7 15 0
    PIT 011100000 3 9 2

    W: E. Santana (13-6)

    L: V. Worley (5-3)

    Braves-Pirates Preview


    If the Atlanta Braves are to build on a strong finish to a successful homestand, they can't afford another disastrous road trip.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates, meanwhile, hope a return to PNC Park -- where they own the NL's best home record and have fared well against the Braves of late -- will help them rebound from a rough trek of their own.

    The Braves can record a fourth straight win by avoiding a ninth consecutive road defeat in the opener of a 10-game trip Monday night against the Pirates, who are in danger of dropping six in a row for the first time in two seasons.

    With a 4-3 victory Sunday, Atlanta (64-60) swept a three-game set from reeling Oakland to conclude a 6-4 homestand. That followed an 0-8 trip where they totaled 18 runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego and Seattle.

    After that strong weekend showing against one of baseball's top clubs, the Braves appear poised to avoid dropping nine straight road contests for the first time since a 10-game slide in 1996 and their sixth in eight at PNC, where they've totaled three runs in losing the last three.

    The Braves are six games back of first-place Washington in the East, but along with Pittsburgh (64-60), they are 1 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot.

    "We know we're not out of this thing," first baseman Freddie Freeman told MLB's official website.

    The Pirates are 39-24 at home, but scored 18 runs during a winless five-game trip that concluded with three straight one-run losses at Washington. Pittsburgh scored three times in the ninth Sunday to take a 5-4 lead, but lost 6-5 in 11 innings.

    "You get to do this late in the season -- we love our jobs," manager Clint Hurdle said.

    "You've got to embrace the good -- and the hard. We're gonna show up and play. We all know what's at stake. We're playing for something, and we'll keep pushing."

    The Pirates could be in for a serious challenge as Ervin Santana (12-6, 3.66 ERA) faces them for the first time in the opener. The Atlanta right-hander allowed two runs and struck out nine in six innings of a 3-2 win over the Dodgers on Wednesday to improve to 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last six starts.

    Pittsburgh counters with Vance Worley (5-2, 2.51), who yielded three earned runs over 28 innings to go 3-0 in four starts prior to Wednesday when he gave up five -- three earned -- and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-4 loss at Detroit.

    "It's up to me to command the zone and make it mine," Worley said.

    The right-hander hopes to avoid losing his third straight start to the Braves after allowing 12 runs, 16 hits and five walks in 7 1/3 innings in the last two over the previous two seasons while with Philadelphia and Minnesota.

    Freeman and Jason Heyward are a combined 6 for 17 against Worley. However, Heyward went 1 for 11 at Pittsburgh last season and Freeman is 2 for 19 with six strikeouts in seven career games at PNC.

    Pittsburgh's Travis Snider is batting .400 in the last eight games, but he is 1 for 10 versus Santana.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Gameday Matchup

    Current StreakW2L2
    Last 103-76-4

    Pitching Matchup

    E. Santana
    14-10, 3.95 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/26 at PHI
    5.2 IP, 4 ER
    Dec = ND
    V. Worley
    8-4, 2.85 ERA

    Last Game:
    9/26 at CIN
    6.1 IP, 1 ER
    Dec = ND

    Gameday Lineups

    1. J. Heyward, RF G. Polanco, RF
    2. A. Simmons, SS J. Harrison, SS
    3. F. Freeman, 1B N. Walker, 2B
    4. J. Upton, LF R. Martin, C
    5. C. Johnson, 3B P. Alvarez, 1B
    6. T. La Stella, 2B S. Marte, CF
    7. G. Laird, C T. Snider, LF
    8. E. Bonifacio, CF B. Morel, 3B
    9. E. Santana, P V. Worley, P

    Research Notes

    Ervin Santana takes the mound for the Braves tonight as they travel to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates. Santana is one of 3 pitchers with 5 wins since the All Star Break. (Johnny Cueto and Wily Peralta) Since the break, Santana has won 5 of his 6 starts and has a 2.70 ERA and a WHIP of 1.23.
    From Elias: FROM ELIAS: Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons hit back to back HR to open game for Braves. It is the 4th time this season that a team had players open a game with back-to-back HR-- other 3 teams to do it were the Rockies against the Reds (players: Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson), Phillies against the Reds (Jimmy Rollins and Wil Nieves), and the Twins against the Blue Jays (Danny Santana and Brian Dozier). The last time the Braves hit consecutive HR to begin game-- May 14, 2011 against the Phillies- Martin Prado and Nate McLouth
    Ervin Santana throws sliders 34.6 percent of the time, which is the fourth most among qualified starters this year. Travis Snider has a .333 ISO in at-bats that end in a slider this year (.144 ISO against all other pitch types), which would rank him second among all qualified hitters.
    From Elias: The Braves got home runs from their first 2 hitters of the game in Pittsburgh... The last time the Braves got a HR from their first 2 hitters of a road game (i.e. the first 2 hitters of the game) was August 6, 1937, when Roy C. Johnson and Rabbit Warstler led off with home runs for the Boston Bees in a game at Wrigley Field.
    The Atlanta Braves beat the Pirates on Monday night in Pittsburgh 7-3. It was their first road win since July 13. It was also their first road win of the second half.

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