The Atlanta Braves' pitching staff has been pretty stingy lately, and that may bode well heading into a series against a slumping Minnesota Twins team that's struggling to score.
Atlanta seeks to win a fourth straight game while dealing visiting Minnesota a sixth consecutive defeat Monday night.
The Braves (25-18) had lost five of six going into the weekend, but completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-2 victory Sunday, scoring four runs in the eighth inning.
Mike Minor struck out nine and the bullpen pitched three scoreless innings, giving Atlanta a 2.25 ERA over its last six contests.
``We lost a lot of games we felt we should have won,' Minor said. "We came back in another one from behind and got the sweep.'
The Braves overcame late deficits in all three games, outscoring the Dodgers 13-2 from the sixth inning on.
``We've been slow out of the gate as an offense (over the last three games), and (the pitching staff has) been able to keep us in the ballgame and keep runs off the board,' said left fielder Justin Upton, 3 for 18 in his last five. ``That's important in giving us a shot to win.'
Julio Teheran (2-1, 4.57 ERA), who has posted a 2.84 ERA over his last four outings after getting off to a rough start to the season, will look to continue the trend. He gave up two runs in six innings Tuesday but lost 2-0 to Arizona.
"He's making adjustments in the middle of the game and he's making changes when he needs to. That's a good sign," catcher Gerald Laird told the team's official website.
The right-hander, who suffered his first defeat since falling to Philadelphia in his major league debut May 5, 2011, had gotten 18 runs of support in his previous four starts.
Teheran has never faced Minnesota and his only start versus an AL opponent was a short one, as he gave up four runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 12-4 loss to Toronto on June 10.
The Twins (18-22) have been struggling offensively, though, getting outscored 33-14 during their skid. Joe Mauer had his 15-game hitting streak snapped in a 5-1 loss to Boston on Sunday.
``We didn't really come up with key hits when we needed to or when we wanted to,' said outfielder Chris Parmelee, 1 for 13 in his last four. ``It's tough to win a ballgame when you don't have any clutch hits.'
Minnesota went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
"These games, they happen throughout the season and it's something you've got to deal with," said third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who had two of the Twins' five hits to extend his hitting streak to six.
The Twins' Kevin Correia (4-3, 3.35) is looking to snap out of a funk. The right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA in his first five starts but has posted a 5.71 ERA in three outings this month.
He allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 4-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, giving up the go-ahead runs in the eighth before exiting.
The right-hander has been solid in his last four starts versus the Braves, going 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA. He gave up one run in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-1 win while pitching for Pittsburgh the last time he faced them Oct. 2.
The Associated Press News Service
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