The Atlanta Braves continued their recent dominance of the Washington Nationals earlier this month, including a win over ace Stephen Strasburg.
With their fast start a distant memory, the Braves hope a return home for a four-game series with their NL East rival can get them untracked.
Atlanta attempts to avoid its longest slide in 11 months and set a franchise record for its longest winning streak over the Nationals on Monday night.
The Braves (15-9) outscored Washington 18-5 while winning all three games in the nation's capital from April 12-14, including a 3-1 win over Strasburg in the middle game of that set. That's part of their seven-game winning streak, matching the longest by either team in the all-time series.
Atlanta did it May 20-July 5, 1997, when the Nationals were the Montreal Expos.
The Braves' latest sweep of Washington (13-12) was part of a 12-1 start to the season, but they've cooled off significantly by losing eight of 11. They concluded a 3-7 road trip by falling 8-3 at Detroit on Sunday, their fourth consecutive loss.
Atlanta, which hasn't dropped five in a row since an eight-game skid May 21-28, is playing the next seven at home, where it's 6-2.
"It was a tough road trip. You can tell it wore on us," said second baseman Dan Uggla, 4 for 26 with one homer and four RBIs during the trip.
Strasburg (1-4, 3.16 ERA) will try to add to the Braves' recent woes by ending his own.
The right-hander has lost a career-high four straight starts behind a 4.07 ERA. However, he's been backed by just six total runs of support.
He can't be blamed for April 13 loss to Atlanta after he surrendered two unearned runs with seven strikeouts in six innings.
The same can't be said about his three outings at Turner Field, where he's 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA.
Strasburg struggled early Wednesday, giving up three runs in the first inning before settling down and tossing six scoreless with seven strikeouts in a 4-2 loss to St. Louis.
Washington is trying to rebound from Sunday's 5-2 loss to Cincinnati after winning the first three games of the series.
Adam LaRoche, a member of the Braves in 2009, is hitless in his last 26 at_bats, dropping his average 65 points to .135.
"I've got one of two options here," the first baseman said. "I can either keep my head up, keep swinging or I can pack up and go home. I'm not ready to go home yet."
He's 1 for 10 versus Atlanta this year, and will be facing Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.48), who is coming off probably the best performance of his career.
The right-hander, widely considered among the best young arms in baseball, allowed one run and eight hits in seven innings of Tuesday's 10-2 win at Colorado.
Teheran didn't get a decision in his only meeting with Washington on April 12, when he was reached for four runs with three walks in six innings of a 6-4 victory.
Despite the losing streak to the Braves, the Nationals are adamant they'll prove to be better over the course of the season.
"I still don't think that they are better than us," second baseman Danny Espinosa told the team's official website following a 9-0 loss to the Braves on April 14. "It doesn't last forever. So I'm not worried about it. I'm going to be real confident the next 16 games."
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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