While most other teams in baseball will finish their first interleague series Sunday, the Atlanta Braves will happily conclude another set against an NL Central opponent.
The Braves look to finish a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with their 11th straight win against NL Central teams at PNC Park.Atlanta (23-20) has won 10 of its last 12 overall, thanks in large part to its recent dominance against teams from the Central. Since getting swept in a four-game series in St. Louis from April 26-29, the Braves have won 10 straight against that division.In baseball's lone intraleague series this weekend, Atlanta has had little trouble with struggling Pittsburgh. The Braves rolled to a 7-0 win Friday before keeping the Pirates quiet at the plate again in a 4-2 victory Saturday night."We're playing pretty good baseball right now," said Braves first baseman Eric Hinske, who hit a solo home run in the third inning Saturday. "We're getting good pitching and good hitting. We've got some momentum going and we want to roll with it for as long as we can."Pittsburgh (18-25) will need a major offensive turnaround to stop Atlanta's surge. The Pirates have been shut out three times, averaged 2.0 runs and batted .200 while dropping seven of eight at home. They stranded 14 baserunners Saturday, going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position."It was a frustrating night," first baseman Garrett Jones said. "We had plenty of guys on base but we just couldn't get the big hit. It seemed like we were always one hit away from turning the game in our favor."Pittsburgh hopes for better results behind Zach Duke (3-4, 5.08 ERA), who will take the mound hoping to build on his first win in more than a month. The left-hander had gone 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA over his previous six starts before a 2-1 win at Philadelphia on Tuesday. He limited the Phillies to one run over six innings, outdueling Roy Halladay.Duke got hammered by Atlanta last season, giving up 23 hits in 12 innings while posting a 9.00 over two starts -- both Pittsburgh losses.Chipper Jones, who's 3 for 7 with two RBIs in this series, is 11 for 21 with a home run and three doubles lifetime against Duke. Martin Prado is 6 for 12 with a homer and three doubles against him.The Braves will hand the ball to Kris Medlen (1-1, 2.45) for his third start of the year. The right-hander, used primarily as a reliever this season, has no record and a 2.53 ERA in his first two starts. He held the Mets to two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings of Atlanta's 3-2 win Tuesday.Medlen has made one relief appearance against the Pirates, giving up one hit and striking out three in three innings June 8.