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PIT@ARI: Saunders fans five over seven strong frames

With 74 runs in their last 10 games, everything seems to be clicking for the Braves on offense these days -- the way everything might be clicking for the D-backs if they were healthy.

But they aren't -- star outfielders Justin Upton and Chris Young have been out since Wednesday -- and it's starting to show. The D-backs have lost four straight, including the first two games of a four-game set against Atlanta that continues on Saturday.

"There's no added pressure," D-backs second baseman Aaron Hill said. "Guys are smart enough to know the more you try to do, the harder you're making it on yourself. There's no reason we can't win ballgames."

But they haven't been. The D-backs haven't won since Young suffered a right shoulder injury that landed him on the DL the same day Upton was held out of the lineup because of his jammed left thumb for the first time.

It's been quite the opposite recently for the Braves, who have now taken four straight and nine out of 10 after starting the season 0-4.

"Hitting is contagious," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Anything positive is contagious. Good pitching and good hitting."

The Braves will face D-backs lefty Joe Saunders, who put up awful numbers in the spring but has dominated his first two regular-season outings, allowing just one run in his 14 innings.

He'll face an Atlanta squad loaded with lefties. But that doesn't necessarily work in Saunders' favor. He has allowed lefties to hit .286 against him this year, while righties are hitting just .190.

Right-hander Tommy Hanson gets the ball opposite Saunders. He has pitched well this season, but has just a 1-2 mark to show for it. Hanson was in control against the Mets for most of Monday's game, but he hung a curveball to Ike Davis and was punished for it with a game-deciding three-run home run.

Braves: Francisco to see plenty of action
• Third baseman Juan Francisco could get "maybe 300 at-bats," this season, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said on Friday.

The Braves are being careful with third baseman Chipper Jones, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on March 26. He sat out on Wednesday and Thursday, and Francisco was 4-for-10 with a homer and four RBIs in his place.

"I know this is a great opportunity for me, and there is a door open for me to play," said Francisco, who is hitting .292 with two home runs and six RBIs this season. "I have to take advantage of what is given to me. I think if I keep doing the little things, it will turn out well. I just have to be ready mentally and physically for when the opportunity arrives."

• With a sixth-inning single, Jason Heyward extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He's hitting .385 during the streak.

• First baseman Freddie Freeman is 10-for-17 with three homers and 12 RBIs in his last four games.

D-backs: Roberts goes back to basics
• Third baseman Ryan Roberts worked on his footwork and his throws to first base before batting practice on Friday. Over the past week, Roberts has struggled with his throws to first.

"At times, you start thinking too much," Roberts said. "So you have to go back to the basics of making sure your feet are underneath you and you follow your throw. That means working on footwork and trying to keep your feet underneath you with ground balls."

• A.J. Pollock remains in search of his first career hit after making his debut on Wednesday.

Worth noting

• D-backs manager Kirk Gibson on Jones, who is retiring after the season and was back in the lineup Friday:

"He's had such a long career," Gibson said. "You play against him and read about him. He's been in the game for so long, you're always going to see if you can learn something from him. He's well respected; he's always done it right."

• Hanson will be happy if Upton remains out of the lineup, as Upton has three hits in six at-bats against the Braves righty, including a homer and a triple. Comments