Heading into their Saturday afternoon duel at Wrigley Field, Braves starter Tommy Hanson and Cubs starter Tom Gorzelanny have each been deprived in that area.
In 11 of his last 18 starts, Gorzelanny has received two runs of support or fewer. Hanson, meanwhile, has been on a historic run of misfortune.
The 23-year-old right-hander has allowed one earned run or fewer in his past five starts, but he has gone winless in all of them (though the Braves did win as a team in his last two outings). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's the first time a Major League pitcher has gone on a run like that since the earned run itself became an official stat, in 1913.
"I can't do anything about that," said Hanson, whose ERA has dropped, from 4.50 to 3.41, since June 27. "I just have to keep doing what I'm doing, and everything will take care of itself."
This Braves-Cubs series is a matchup pinning two storied managers with one very notable thing in common, but steering clubs headed in two opposite directions.
Both Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella will be retiring at the end of this season, with Cox facing Sweet Lou for the first time since the latter announced he'd be hanging it up after 2010.
Cox's sendoff may be a little sweeter than Lou's, though.
The Braves, after a 5-3 comeback win in the series opener on Friday, are coming off a recent 5-2 homestand and are now 13-6 in August. They sat three games ahead of the Phillies in the National League East heading into Friday night's slate of games.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are 11-23 since the All-Star break and 4-15 in August, 23 games below .500 and 21 games off the pace in the NL Central.
"What are you going to do?" Piniella said before his club's fifth straight loss. "You take the good with the bad. It hasn't been easy for me, but it's not easy for anybody, and this isn't about me. This is about this organization."
The organization provided a classy gesture for the departing Cox on Friday, when a billboard behind the right-field bleachers that rotates each series read: "Bravo Bobby! Cheers to 29 Years."
"That's pretty nice," Cox said. "We'll have to get a picture of that."
Braves: Lee struggles in debut
Derrek Lee's debut with the Braves didn't go exactly as planned, as the newly acquired first baseman finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left four runners on base at his old home ballpark.
Lee waived his no-trade clause on Wednesday to accept a trade to the Braves, and he wound up making his Atlanta debut against the team he'd been with since 2004. When he went up to bat in the first inning, Cubs starter Ryan Dempster stepped back and allowed the Wrigley Field fans to welcome Lee with a standing ovation.
Emotions may ease a bit by Game 2.
"It will definitely feel more normal," Lee said about Saturday's game. "But I think it's going to feel a little different all weekend."
Cubs: Home is (not) where the heart is
After closer Carlos Marmol gave up three runs in the ninth inning on Friday, the Cubs had eight consecutive losses at Wrigley Field, their longest home losing streak since dropping nine straight from May 31 to June 27, 2006.
Going back farther, Chicago has gone 1-11 in its last 12 home games since July 25. In that span the club is batting .240 and has compiled a 5.16 ERA.
The Braves' pitching staff had its 84 1/3-inning homerless streak come to an end on Thursday. Mike Morse's second-inning homer off Derek Lowe was the first against Atlanta since the eighth inning against the Giants on Aug. 8. ... Cox doesn't expect right-hander Kenshin Kawakami to return to the Major League club until rosters expand in September. ... Tyler Colvin is expected to make his debut at first base next week during the Cubs' three-game series against the Nationals.
Sat, 8/21 4:10 PM ET
Gorzelanny enchants with nine K performance
The Cubs' Tom Gorzelanny struck out nine while holding the Braves to just one run over seven innings. Brooks Conrad conjured up some late-inning magic in the eighth to bring Atlanta within one, but Chicago held on.
|Lee, D, 1B||3||1||0||0||2||1||5||.247|
|Gonzalez, Al, SS||4||1||2||1||1||1||1||.262|
|Ross, D, C||3||1||1||0||1||0||2||.284|
|b-Cabrera, Me, PH-CF||1||0||0||0||0||1||3||.263|
|a-Hernandez, Di, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Castro, S, SS||3||1||1||0||1||1||2||.309|
|Ramirez, Ar, 3B||4||2||3||2||0||0||0||.239|
|Hill, K, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.205|
2B: Ross, D (9, Gorzelanny), Prado (32, Gorzelanny), Diaz (15, Gorzelanny), Gonzalez, Al (33, Gorzelanny), Conrad (10, Marshall).
TB: Infante; Heyward 2; Prado 2; Diaz 2; Gonzalez, Al 3; Ross, D 2; Conrad 2.
RBI: Gonzalez, Al (67), Conrad 2 (27).
2-out RBI: Conrad 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Diaz; Ankiel; Lee, D 2; Hernandez, Di; Prado 2.
Team RISP: 2-for-11.
Team LOB: 12.
E: Prado 2 (8, throw, fielding), Ross, D (2, throw).
DP: 2 (Infante-Gonzalez, Al-Lee, D, Prado-Infante-Lee, D).
2B: Fukudome (14, Hanson).
TB: Fukudome 3; Castro, S; Ramirez, Ar 3; Colvin 2; Nady; DeWitt.
RBI: Ramirez, Ar 2 (61), Colvin 2 (44), DeWitt (39).
2-out RBI: Ramirez, Ar; Colvin; DeWitt.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Hill, K 2; Byrd.
GIDP: Colvin; Byrd.
Team RISP: 5-for-13.
Team LOB: 8.
SB: Fukudome (5, 2nd base off Hanson/Ross, D).
E: Castro, S (19, missed catch).
HBP: Heyward (by Marshall).
Pitches-strikes: Hanson 94-56, O'Flaherty 10-9, Farnsworth 17-14, Venters 14-10, Gorzelanny 120-77, Cashner 15-6, Marshall 16-8, Marmol 16-9.
Groundouts-flyouts: Hanson 4-5, O'Flaherty 1-1, Farnsworth 0-0, Venters 1-0, Gorzelanny 5-6, Cashner 0-0, Marshall 1-0, Marmol 0-1.
Batters faced: Hanson 26, O'Flaherty 4, Farnsworth 4, Venters 3, Gorzelanny 30, Cashner 4, Marshall 5, Marmol 4.
Inherited runners-scored: Marshall 3-3.
Umpires: HP: Dan Iassogna. 1B: Dale Scott. 2B: Jerry Meals. 3B: Mark Wegner.
Weather: 79 degrees, sunny.
Wind: 7 mph, In from RF.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media