Despite their current run, the Atlanta Braves haven't been able to cut much into their deficit in the NL East, but they are at least putting some distance between themselves and one of the other potential wild-card teams.
The Braves will go for their fifth straight win Saturday night when they continue their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.Atlanta won for the 18th time in 23 games Friday, rallying from a two-run deficit in the eighth for a 4-3 win over the Dodgers in 11 innings. Pinch-hitter Juan Francisco singled home David Ross for the winning run and Chipper Jones hit his third homer in two games."Good teams find a way to win those kind of games," said shortstop Paul Janish, who entered Friday hitting .210 but had a season-high three hits. "Guys are up there grinding at the plate."Atlanta (70-49) won its fourth in a row to remain four games behind East-leading Washington. It did gain another game on Los Angeles (65-55), which fell out of first in the NL West and is third in the wild-card standings.Friday's result was all too familiar for the Dodgers, who have lost three straight to the Braves with the go-ahead run scoring in the ninth inning or later in each game.Los Angeles will try to avoid a third straight loss Saturday when it hands the ball to Aaron Harang (8-7, 3.76 ERA), who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 of his last 14 starts. He surrendered two runs and five hits in six innings of a 5-4 win over Pittsburgh on Monday.The right-hander is 1/3 with a 4.53 ERA in 10 career starts against the Braves, but has turned in quality starts in his last two matchups. He surrendered three runs and walked four in six innings of a 4-3 loss on April 24, but didn't factor in the decision.Braves catcher Brian McCann, who got Friday off while in a 4-for-36 slump in August, is 12 for 23 lifetime against Harang with two homers and five doubles. Jones is 7 for 18 with two home runs in their matchups.Los Angeles would like to see Harang pitch deep into this game after the bullpen pitched more than three innings for a second straight night following Joe Blanton's 4 1-3-inning start Thursday against Pittsburgh.The Braves will counter with Ben Sheets (4-2, 2.13), who hasn't been quite as sharp lately after a brilliant start in his return to the majors following Tommy John surgery. After going 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his first three starts, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three outings this month.He gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings of a 6-5 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday.Three runs came over the first two innings."I've just got to find a way to come out of the gates better and give myself a chance to get some momentum," Sheets told the team's official website. "If you know anything about my career, you know me and first innings are not real good. I've just got to be better than that."Sheets is 3-6 with a 3.78 ERA lifetime against the Dodgers but hasn't faced them since 2008.