The Atlanta Braves should feel confident with Julio Teheran taking the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies, though it should be interesting to see who they choose to start behind the plate.
As Teheran looks to continue his dominance in the season series, the Braves will try to avoid their fifth consecutive loss to the Phillies in Friday night's series opener at Citizens Bank Park.
With Ryan Howard hitting two homers and driving in six runs from June 16-18, Philadelphia (36-42) totaled 21 runs while taking three straight in Atlanta. But the Phillies have scored 18 times and hit .149 with runners in scoring position in their last six.
They squandered several chances to score in extra innings Thursday before Chase Utley finally delivered a walk-off two-run home run in the 14th inning for a 5-3 win over Miami that secured a split of the four games.
'I tried to square one up, go home,' Utley said.
Now Philadelphia may have to overcome its struggles against Teheran (6-5, 2.41 ERA) to extend its longest win streak versus Atlanta (40-38) since a seven-game run in 2011.
Teheran allowed one run - a Howard homer - over eight innings in a 6-1, 13-inning loss to the Phillies last week. In two meetings this season, he's gone 1-0 while giving up one run and seven hits over 17 innings.
The right-hander, however, will try to keep his emotions in check after he struggled to work with catcher Evan Gattis in Saturday's 3-0 loss at Washington. At one point, he stepped off the rubber and committed a balk after shaking off several signs.
"I was shaking, and that was when I got frustrated, because I wasn't seeing the pitch that I was thinking," said Teheran, who went on to give up three runs with a season-high 10 strikeouts over seven innings.
Replacing Gattis behind the plate might not be best solution since he leads the team with a .291 average and is tied for the most home runs with 16. He's also 11 for 23 with five homers in his last five games versus Philadelphia.
Following Thursday's 6-1 loss at Houston, the Braves have totaled nine runs and hit .169 while losing three of their last five. Jason Heyward has gone 1 for 14 over that span, but he went 2 for 3 with a double off Kyle Kendrick in a 5-2 home loss June 17.
Kendrick (3-7, 4.20) surrendered two runs over seven innings in that contest, improving to 7-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 16 career starts versus Atlanta.
The right-hander, who allowed five runs over six innings in Sunday's 5-3 loss at St. Louis, will try to go deep into this outing after Philadelphia used six relievers Thursday.
Atlanta's Freddie Freeman went 1 for 4 Thursday after being hit with a pitch that forced him to exit the previous contest. He's hit .196 in his last 12 trips to Philadelphia.
Justin Upton also has struggled against the Phillies, hitting .167 in his last 11 meetings.
Utley, Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown and Marlon Byrd are a combined 1 for 34 off Teheran this season, though Howard is 3 for 9 with two homers lifetime.
Brown, hitting .169 at home, was not in the starting lineup one day after making a critical defensive miscue in Wednesday's 3-2 loss. The 2013 All-Star went 1 for 4 after entering as a pinch hitter.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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