© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
PrintPrint

05/30/10 1:24 AM ET

Braves eye sweep in finale with Pirates

The Braves are probably hoping May could continue for the rest of the season. The month has been very good to Atlanta, as it has produced the most runs in the National League, and has a 17-8 record to show for it.

Not that any of that May production has helped Sunday's starter, Kenshin Kawakami. He is 0-3 in the month, to go along with 0-7 on the year.

Kawakami's 0-7 record is the first time a Braves starter has lost his first seven decisions to start a season since Pascual Perez in 1985. Perez's eighth decision resulted in a win, and Kawakami can only hope that that pattern continues. If he does take another loss, however, he would begin to threaten the Braves franchise record for consecutive losses.

That dubious distinction is nine, which is held by both Tommy Boggs (1981) and Marty Clary (1990).

He will be opposed by Paul Maholm of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Even though the Pirates have not had as productive a month, Maholm is 2-2 in May.

The Braves have been so productive in May that even struggling Chipper Jones has recently started to regain the form that he's displayed for most of his celebrated career. So far in the homestand, Jones is batting 3-for-6.

Not to be outdone, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates is having himself an enviable month, as he is batting .330 with three home runs and seven RBIs for the month of May. McCutchen also homered in Saturday's 6-3 Braves win.

The Pirates have been struggling to find any consistency in their efforts, as they sit nine games below .500 and in fifth in the National League Central. One of the bright spots has been the efforts of Maholm, who has outpaced his career ERA by a third of a run.

In addition, Maholm also leads the team in wins and ERA coming into Sunday's game.

Braves backup catcher David Ross has been phenomenal in replacing the injured Brian McCann, who has been sidelined since Wednesday with a strained right quad.

"Normally, your backup catchers, you try not to get them in there," starting pitcher Tim Hudson said about Ross. "But with David, we have a lot of confidence in him, that at any point B-Mac needs a rest or gets banged up or needs some time off, we can put him back there. You're not going to get the offense you get from Brian obviously, but he brings something to the table that most teams can't bring."

Bobby Cox had a humorous take on Ross, who comes into Sunday's game with 11 RBIs in 12 starts.

"If I started him 150 times, I could do the math," Cox said before Saturday's game.

Pirates: Looking to hold leads down stretch
The Pirates are 14-1 when they are leading after just four innings. The only foil to this statistic is the fact that the Pirates have given up 13 runs in their last three games in the first three innings. The Pirates are also 3-28 when they trail after four innings.

Braves: Rain delays becoming commonplace
The Braves' win on Saturday night was delayed 24 minutes in the top of the ninth inning, the second consecutive game in which they've waited out a rain delay. Atlanta has suffered through five rain delays in its last seven games.

Worth noting
Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno is 9 for his last 17. ... Bobby Crosby started his third game at first base. He now has three starts at all four infield positions. ... Maholm is 1-1 with a 1.33 ERA against the Braves in his career. ... The Braves are now 237-239 against the Pirates since the Braves have moved to Atlanta. ... Jason Heyward entered Saturday's games leading all rookies in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, home runs, RBIs, walks, runs, and extra-base hits. ... Over his last 13 appearances, Peter Moylan has given up two earned runs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


MLB.com