Cardinals-Braves Preview 2009-04-29

Chipper Jones likely won't get the chance to beat the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night, so one of his teammates may again have to pick up the slack if the Atlanta Braves are going to take the finale of the three-game series at Turner Field.

Without the injured Brian McCann and Garret Anderson in the lineup to protect Jones, who's batting .333 this season and is 3-for-5 against scheduled starter Adam Wainwright, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa seems to certain to continue taking the bat out of the slugger's hands.

La Russa had Jones walked five times in the first two games of the series and in all four plate appearances Tuesday. One of those walks came in the eighth inning, and Jones came around to score the go-ahead run on Matt Diaz's two-run single in Atlanta's 2-1 victory.

Diaz had struck out twice earlier in the game and six times in 13 previous at-bats, but helped the Braves avoid a third straight loss.

"I've been struggling with strikeouts," said Diaz, who has 13 in 48 at-bats this season but is 2-for-3 versus Wainwright. "I was just trying to put the ball in play."

While Atlanta (10-10) tries to get on track offensively after scoring two runs in each of its last three games, it hopes Javier Vazquez (2-1, 2.63 ERA) continues his surprising early season success Wednesday. The right-hander has been a solid contributor to the Braves' revamped rotation, pitching at least six innings in all four starts while striking out 34 in 24 innings.

Vazquez won his second straight start Friday, recording nine strikeouts and allowing two runs in six innings of a 4-3 victory over Cincinnati.

"Javy should have won each of his starts," manager Bobby Cox told the Braves' official Web site.

Vazquez is 2-6 with a 4.01 ERA in nine starts against the Cardinals, last facing them in 2006.

St. Louis has been held to seven runs in losing two of its last three games, with Albert Pujols going 1-for-9. The first baseman has yet to find a groove away from Busch Stadium, hitting .194 (6-for-31) with one homer and five RBIs in eight road games.

Pujols, though, is 5-for-13 with two doubles and a homer versus Vazquez.

Wainwright (2-0, 2.70) will try to provide another quality start for the Cardinals after Joel Pineiro and Kyle Lohse turned in strong outings in the first two games of the series. Wainwright has dominated the Braves, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2000, going 3-0 in as many starts with a 1.35 ERA. He has a 1.13 ERA versus Atlanta in six total appearances.

The right-hander is 5-0 with a 4.45 ERA in six road starts since May 12. He did not get a decision Friday against Chicago after giving up three runs - one earned - in seven innings of the Cardinals' 4-3 win.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina has a 12-game hitting streak, batting .409 (18-for-44) with a homer and eight RBIs in that span to raise his average to .353.



Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009