After seeing their NL wild-card lead shrink to 4 1/2 games, the Atlanta Braves are hoping a return to Turner Field will get them back on track.
Opening their homestand against the Florida Marlins might also help.The Braves will try to continue their recent mastery of the Marlins and avoid a season-high fourth straight loss Monday night.Before heading out on the road, Atlanta (84-63) led St. Louis by 8 1/2 games in the wild-card race but lost six of eight on its trip, including all three games against the Cardinals this weekend.After recording a pair of one-run victories, St. Louis scored five times in the third inning to hand the Braves a 6-3 loss Sunday."Obviously, we're still in a good spot even though we haven't played very well this past week," pitcher Tim Hudson said. "We just need to get home, get our feet under us a little bit and take a deep breath and understand they're chasing us and we're not chasing them."The Braves will try to benefit during 12 consecutive games against sub-.500 teams. Their six-game homestand wraps up against the New York Mets next weekend then they head out to Florida to begin a six-game trip.Atlanta has won eight of nine over the Marlins (66-79) and took two of three at Turner Field from July 29-31. Brandon Beachy (7-2, 3.29 ERA) claimed the victory in the opener of that series and is 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his last nine starts.He gave up one run and two hits over 5 2/3 innings Wednesday in Philadelphia but did not get a decision in a 3-2 loss. The right-hander fanned seven to break the franchise's rookie strikeouts record (142)."That's pretty neat, but I'd rather have the win," Beachy said.The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last two starts against the Marlins and gave up two hits over 7 1/3 innings July 29. He struck out 10 -- one shy of matching his career high -- in Florida on Aug. 9 and allowed two runs and three hits over 6 2/3 innings of a 4-3 win.The Marlins enter this series having won six of eight and three in a row to open a season-high, 11-game road trip. Florida completed its sweep of Pittsburgh by scoring four runs in the fifth inning for a 4-1 victory Sunday."I think that this club's got a bright future," manager Jack McKeon told the team's official website. "I know we have struggled this year at times, but some of the young kids have got a year under their belt and are developing and improving. We get a veteran or two around them, you'll see a big difference in those guys."Chris Volstad (5-12, 5.37) will try to keep the Marlins unbeaten on their trek by earning his first win since July 10. The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.60 ERA since a brief trip to the minors but pitched solidly in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to the Mets, giving up two runs over six innings.Volstad is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season.