With the regular season winding down, the Atlanta Braves are trying to hang on to the NL's best record.
The Braves try to inch closer to securing home-field advantage in the postseason Wednesday night as they conclude a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers, who are surely looking forward to leaving Turner Field.
Evan Gattis had three hits and an RBI and Andrelton Simmons delivered a game-winning single with two outs in the ninth inning, giving Atlanta a thrilling 3-2 victory Tuesday.
"It's always good to have those close games and come out victorious and create that winning habit that we've had throughout the year," said Simmons, whose team has already clinched the NL East. "To keep that going into the postseason is big."
The Braves, who remain one-half game ahead of St. Louis for the league's best record, have outscored the Brewers 57-32 during a 9-1 stretch at Turner Field.
Atlanta, owner of baseball's best home record at 53-23, will try to keep things going behind Paul Maholm (10-10, 4.44 ERA). The left-hander returned to the mound Friday for the first time in 12 days due to a troublesome elbow, and allowed four runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 9-5 road win over the Chicago Cubs without a decision.
"Early on, it was good," he told MLB's official website. "I made a couple bad pitches for the (two) home runs. It just seemed like later in the game the pitches just didn't seem to be the same. I don't know if that was influenced by not pitching for 12 days. My arm felt good."
While Maholm is 6-2 with a 2.18 ERA at home, he is 4-11 with a 5.19 ERA versus Milwaukee (70-87), his most losses against any team. Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez are a combined 14 for 30 with three homers and two doubles in their matchups.
Maholm had dropped five straight starts to the Brewers before allowing four runs in five innings in a 7-4 road victory June 23.
Milwaukee counters with Kyle Lohse (10-10, 3.51), who allowed three runs and needed 100 pitches to get through five innings Thursday in a 5-1 loss to the Cubs. The right-hander offered up his 25th and 26th homers, among the most in the NL.
"He struggled with his command," manager Ron Roenicke said. "A lot of pitches in five innings. The two home runs certainly hurt."
Lohse, 0-1 with a 10.45 ERA in his last two road starts, is 3-0 despite a 4.17 ERA in eight outings against the Braves since 2007. B.J. Upton, mired in a 1-for-33 slump, is 4 for 6 with two doubles off Lohse. Justin Upton, though, is 2 for 13.
With the playoffs fast approaching, manager Fredi Gonzalez is looking for B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla to pick up the pace. Uggla is batting a major league-worst .182 among qualified players, and Upton is at .186.
"B.J. and I have struggled more than we can ever imagine," Uggla said. "Believe me, it's not from a lack of work and effort. We've had so many blisters on our hands from hitting in the cage. But now it's time to stop working on things. You've got to realize who you are as a hitter and what kind of hitter you are and go with it."
Gomez is 2 for his last 21 overall and 2 for 17 against the Braves this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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