The Atlanta Braves received a solid pitching performance from an unexpected source in their most recent contest to help extend their winning streak to a season-best seven games.
Jair Jurrjens ' personal hot stretch also has been impressive given his earlier struggles.
The right-hander looks to remain unbeaten since being recalled from the minors when surging Atlanta hosts former Brave Melky Cabrera and the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants in the opener of a three-game set Tuesday night.
The Braves (49-39) completed a three-game sweep of the Mets with a 6-1 victory Sunday behind six scoreless innings from Ben Sheets , who hadn't pitched in the majors since July 2010.
"We are ecstatic," Jones told the team's official website. "For (Sheets) to come in and build on our winning streak, seven-game winning streaks don't come along very often. We (have to) keep the ball rolling."
They seemingly have a good chance of doing so with Jurrjens on the mound.
Jurrjens (3-2, 4.97 ERA) has looked rejuvenated since being demoted to Triple-A Gwinnett in late April after going 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in his first four outings. He allowed three runs in seven innings of a 4-3 win over Philadelphia on July 8, improving to 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts since being recalled June 22.
"(The demotion) was about going down there and having me correct and get back to my delivery and get my strength back again," the 2011 All-Star said. "I've been working hard with (the coaches) every day and you can see the hard work paying off."
Jurrjens is 2-3 with a 3.58 ERA in five career starts versus the Giants after allowing five runs in six innings of a 7-5 loss Aug. 17 - the only defeat Atlanta has suffered in the series' last nine contests.
San Francisco (49-40) has surged ahead of the Dodgers in the West after completing a three-game sweep of Houston with a 3-2 victory Sunday. Buster Posey went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs to help offset the absence of Cabrera, who left the team for the birth of his child."I think we've got enough depth in the lineup where we can get the job done," Posey said. "Obviously any time Melky's not in there we're going to miss him, though."
Cabrera is expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday - one week after being named All-Star game MVP in Kansas City, where he played in 2011 before being dealt to the Giants. He latched on with the Royals after being released by the Braves following a disappointing 2010 season in which he hit .255. This is his first trip back to Turner Field.
While Cabrera has certainly transformed himself since leaving Atlanta, Barry Zito would like to turn the page on his recent struggles.
Zito (7-6, 4.01) picked up a 6-5 win over Pittsburgh on July 6, but he allowed four runs, seven hits and three walks in five innings. He's 2-4 with a 6.12 ERA over his last six starts and his 5.27 walks per nine innings since May are the third-most in the majors.
"I was just missing off the plate a few times," Zito told the team's official website. "I had to make some adjustments, but the (lineup) came out swinging."
The left-hander also struggled with his control over his last four starts against the Braves, but he's 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in those outings - all at Turner Field - despite walking 15.
|San Francisco Giants|
|June 26, 2012||Shane Loux||15-Day DL||Strained neck|
|June 14, 2012||Aubrey Huff||Day-to-Day||Sprained right knee|
|June 11, 2012||Aubrey Huff||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|June 07, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right hamstring|
|June 02, 2012||Santiago Casilla||Day-to-Day||Bruised knee|
|May 16, 2012||Melky Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left toe|
|July 14, 2012||Jack Wilson||15-Day DL||Dislocated right pinkie finger|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
|July 09, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||15-Day DL||Broken right pinkie finger|
|July 08, 2012||Andrelton Simmons||Day-to-Day||Broken right pinkie|
|July 05, 2012||Jonny Venters||15-Day DL||Left elbow impingement|
|June 17, 2012||Brandon Beachy||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia native Buster Posey finally had a homecoming to remember.
Posey drove in five runs with three hits, Barry Zito combined with two relievers on a five-hitter and the San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves 9-0 on Tuesday night.
Posey, from Leesburg in southwestern Georgia, had been only 1 for 11 at Turner Field before his big night. He said his parents and grandparents were in the crowd.
"I think I was a little more relaxed, for sure," Posey said, comparing the game to his earlier visits to Atlanta. "I don't get the chance to play before people I grew up with very often."
Posey had run-scoring singles in the first and third innings. His third hit was a three-run double off Luis Avilan after Jair Jurrjens (3-3) departed in the fourth.
"Growing up here in Georgia, I'm sure he had a lot of family and friends here, and he had a good game for them," said manager Bruce Bochy . "I noticed his numbers here haven't been too good."
Bochy made a pregame request for better pitching away from home with his staff's road ERA sitting at 4.85 - third-worst in the majors. Zito (8-6), who came in with a 5.19 road ERA, answered Bochy's call by allowing only three hits and one walk with four strikeouts in seven innings.
Zito improved to 4-0 in five career starts at Turner Field.
"I don't think there's a whole lot to it," Zito said when asked about his success in Atlanta. "It's a fun place to pitch."
The first-place Giants, who have won four straight, began the night two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.
The Braves' only hits off Zito were a single by Martin Prado to lead off the fourth, an infield hit by Brian McCann to open the fifth and Freddie Freeman 's double with two outs in the seventh. Zito ended the seventh on McCann's groundout to second base.
George Kontos took over for Zito to start the eighth and gave up a one-out double to Paul Janish . Clay Hensley allowed a single to Tyler Pastornicky in the ninth for Atlanta's fifth hit. Hensley hit Freeman with a pitch before ending the game on McCann's flyball to centerfield.
Jurrjens gave up eight runs on eight hits and three walks in 3 1-3 innings as the Braves' seven-game winning streak ended with a thud. Jurrjens had been 3-0 in four starts since his recall from Triple-A Gwinnett on June 22.
"It was a tough one," Jurrjens said, adding he didn't have good command of his pitches. The Braves were not charged with an error but also were hurt by some sloppy fielding, including when Jurrjens missed the bag after taking a throw from Freeman on Angel Pagan 's infield hit to start the fourth inning.
"We just didn't get it done like a team," Jurrjens said. "I didn't make pitches, we didn't hit, we didn't field. That's a team loss."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez called it "probably one of the ugliest games we've played in a while."
The Giants sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth. Zito slapped a run-scoring single under third baseman Chipper Jones ' glove. Ryan Theriot and Melky Cabrera also drove in runs with singles in the big inning.
San Francisco catcher Hector Sanchez left the game in the fourth with a sprained left knee. Sanchez singled and then took off for second base as Zito attempted a bunt. Zito missed the ball and Sanchez appeared to hurt himself when he stopped running. He was limping as he left the field.
Bochy said Sanchez will have an MRI on Wednesday.
"We're hoping for the best," Bochy said. "We're thinking it's a couple days."
Sanchez started with Posey playing first base. Brandon Belt ran for Sanchez and remained in the game at first as Posey moved behind the plate. The Giants say Sanchez is day to day.
Avilan gave up five hits and one run in 3 2-3 innings.
NOTES: SS Paul Janish , acquired from the Reds on Saturday, made his second straight start. Janish is the fill-in for SS Andrelton Simmons , who is expected to miss at least one month with a broken right little finger. ... LHP Jonny Venters , on the 15-day DL with a left elbow impingement, said he felt no physical problem after throwing in the bullpen. He is eligible to come off the DL on Friday but first could have one or two rehab games at Triple-A Gwinnett, according to Gonzalez. ... Cabrera rejoined the Giants following the birth of his daughter, Melianny, on Saturday. ... Gonzalez said Ben Sheets and Randall Delgado will pitch in Sunday's doubleheader at Washington, which was scheduled following a June 1 rainout. Delgado will be recalled from Gwinnett for the start. ... Braves LHP Mike Minor will face Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong on Wednesday night.