Sheets looks to win a fourth start in a row for the first time in over four years and help the Braves extend their win streak to a season-high eight Wednesday night against the new-look Miami Marlins .
Atlanta (59-44) made one major deal prior to Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson and cash from the Chicago Cubs for right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino , a top prospect who had season-ending Tommy John surgery in April.
Maholm is expected to start Saturday against Houston after Tommy Hanson was put on the disabled list with a strained lower back Tuesday.
Sheets (3-0, 0.50 ERA) has already made a major impact for Atlanta, which has won seven straight for the second time in July to pull within 2 1/2 games of NL East-leading Washington.
He's won all three of his starts after signing a minor league contract July 1. The right-hander had been sidelined for nearly two years due to a torn flexor tendon and torn ligament in his throwing elbow.
Sheets last won four consecutive starts with Milwaukee from April 6-29, 2008, and he pulled closer to matching that run with Friday's 6-1 win over Philadelphia. He allowed his only run of the season and yielded six hits in six innings.
"I mean, I'm on a very good team and the guys are doing the heavy pulling," Sheets said. "I'm just trying to put in a little two cents myself, trying to help us out."
He'll now face the Marlins (47-56) for the first time since fanning seven in six scoreless innings of a win on June 3, 2007.
Atlanta has won eight of the last nine meetings with Miami, taking the first two of this four-game set by a combined 15-3 score after Tuesday's 7-1 victory.
Brian McCann has three hits and two RBIs in this series, including a solo homer Tuesday. He's connected for half of his 18 homers while driving in 21 runs over the last 18 games.
"I've been feeling good for a while," said McCann, who owns a .338 average with seven homers and 17 RBIs in his last 17 home meetings with the Marlins.
Miami's deals prior to Tuesday's deadline have it looking toward the future.
The Marlins sent reliever Edward Mujica to St. Louis for minor league third baseman Zack Cox , a first-round draft pick in 2010. First baseman Gaby Sanchez , who lost his job earlier this year and was sent to the minors, was dealt to Pittsburgh for minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a draft pick.
President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said Miami is building a nucleus for the future. The club had already traded star third baseman Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and sent infielder Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez to Detroit last week.
Zambrano went 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA in his last nine starts before allowing one run with three strikeouts in 1 2-3 innings of relief in Monday's 8-2 loss to Atlanta.
LeBlanc, who had made 11 relief appearances this season, is 17-21 with a 4.47 ERA in 52 career starts over the past four years with San Diego.
The left-hander lost his only career start against the Braves on July 20, 2010, allowing two runs with four walks in six innings at Turner Field. He's faced them twice out of the bullpen this year, yielding two runs in 2 2-3 innings.
|July 29, 2012||Logan Morrison||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|July 23, 2012||Juan Carlos Oviedo||15-Day DL||Right elbow sprain|
|July 08, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic right knee surgery|
|July 08, 2012||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Right finger laceration|
|July 06, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|June 30, 2012||Edward Mujica||15-Day DL||Fractured right pinkie toe|
|July 31, 2012||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|July 20, 2012||Matt Diaz||15-Day DL||Right thumb contusion|
|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|
ATLANTA (AP) -- Wade LeBlanc needed two more outs to have a chance to win his first start of the season.
Ozzie Guillen had his focus on LeBlanc's pitch count and the chance to protect a lead against Atlanta.
Miami broke out for three runs in the first inning against Ben Sheets after scoring just three total in two losses to Atlanta, and the Marlins ended the Braves' seven-game winning streak with a 4-2 victory Wednesday night.
Carlos Lee , Greg Dobbs and Bryan Petersen had consecutive run-scoring singles in Miami's first inning.
LeBlanc gave up only five hits and one run in 4 1-3 innings. He was pulled by Guillen after giving up a single by Paul Janish and Sheets' sacrifice bunt in the fifth.
Asked if LeBlanc being so close to qualifying for a win was a factor, the typically candid Guillen replied "If the kid was in the running for Cy Young , yes, but he's not."
LeBlanc threw 71 pitches and Guillen didn't want him to throw more than 75.
"He came out and I said `I've got four more left,"' LeBlanc said.
The early hook came after Guillen said of LeBlanc before the game "I'm just begging for him to give me five innings. That's not too hard to do. ... We need more than four or five innings from our starting pitchers from now on."
After the game, Guillen said he was happy with LeBlanc making it to 71 pitches.
"Obviously, he wanted the win but we've got to take care of business," Guillen said. "I'd rather win the game and stay healthy than win the game and get (LeBlanc) hurt."
Carlos Zambrano (6-9) gave up one run in 1 2-3 innings in relief of LeBlanc. Steve Cishek pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Cishek walked pinch-hitter Michael Bourn to open the ninth. He recovered to strike out pinch-hitter Brian McCann before ending the game when Martin Prado hit into a double play.
"We were not very good with runners on base," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. "Even though we hit the ball hard, we hit it right at them."
Zambrano earned the win in his second appearance since being removed from the rotation. It was only his second career win in relief.
Sheets (3-1) gave up 11 hits and four runs, three earned, in 6 2-3 innings in his first loss in four starts with Atlanta.
"It stinks when you're riding a long winning streak," Sheets said. "In the first inning, I gave them the momentum right out of the gate. The momentum that we earned over seven games.
"I just couldn't get out of the inning."
The Braves' win streak matched their season best.
Freddie Freeman had three hits and Reed Johnson had two hits in his first start with the Braves.
The Braves' only run off LeBlanc came when Freeman, who reached on a single, scored on a double by Janish with two outs in the second inning. Bryan Petersen appeared to hurt his right shoulder as he made a diving attempt to catch the bloop double by Janish. Petersen remained in the game and had an ice pack on the shoulder after the game.
Emilio Bonifacio started the game with a bunt single on Sheets' first pitch. Bonifacio stole second, moved to third on Donnie Murphy 's single and scored on Lee's bloop single to right field. Dobbs and Petersen also had run-scoring singles for the 3-0 lead.
The Marlins pushed their lead to 4-1 in the fourth when Scott Cousins , who reached on an infield single with two outs, scored when left fielder Martin Prado misplayed LeBlanc's double for an error.
Dan Uggla 's double off Zambrano drove in Chipper Jones , who walked, to cut Miami's lead to 4-2 in the sixth.
Mike Dunn gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs in the seventh before ending the inning on Freeman's line drive to right field.
Janish delivered the defensive highlight in the third inning. Sprinting from his shortstop position, Janish ended up on his stomach after making a diving catch at the left-field foul line of a flyball hit by Jose Reyes . Reyes stood staring from second base as Janish returned to his feet.
There was a brief delay when Lee's bat hit home-plate umpire Joe West on Lee's follow-through on his swing in the fifth. The impact knocked West's mask off and left a cut on his face.
NOTES: Reyes has a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the majors. He was picked off by Sheets after his fifth-inning single. ... Guillen said he will start Gorkys Hernandez , acquired from the Pirates on Tuesday, in centerfield on Thursday night. Hernandez was a defensive replacement in left field in the seventh. ... Guillen said he hasn't decided who will join RHP Josh Johnson as the starters in Friday's doubleheader at Washington. ... The Braves placed RHP Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin, clearing a roster spot for Paul Maholm , who was acquired with Johnson from the Cubs on Monday night. ... Braves LHP Mike Minor will face Marlins RHP Nate Eovaldi as the teams conclude their four-game series on Thursday night.