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Looking For 12, Braves Face Nationals

Justin Upton's 10-game hitting streak has helped the Atlanta Braves to 11 straight wins.

Justin Upton’s 10-game hitting streak has helped the Atlanta Braves to 11 straight wins.

The Atlanta Braves made it 11 wins in a row Monday, picking up a 3-2 victory over division rivals the Washington Nationals. The club will look to make it 12 straight Tuesday night as the teams meet for the second of three at Nationals Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

20130805_NL_EastMonday’s series opener began well for the Nationals, who saw Ian Desmond score on Adam LaRoche’s double to deep centerfield in the first. That hit however would prove to be the Nationals only hit (from 10 attempts) with a runner in scoring position.

Atlanta tied the game in the third on a Freddie Freeman single which drove home Justin Heyward, before Freeman connected with another single in the fifth to score Justin Upton and give the Braves a 2-1 lead. Freeman finished the night 3 for 4 at the plate.

Washington tied the game in the sixth as Ryan Zimmerman scored on Anthony Rendon’s sacrifice fly, his 18thRBI of the season.  Upton would go on to connect with the game-winning homerun in the eighth inning though, sending the Braves to an 11th consecutive win and the Nationals to a second straight loss and fourth in six games.

20130805_NL_WildcardAtlanta (68-45, 30-30 road) now holds what looks to be an unattainable 13 ½ game lead over second-place Washington (54-58, 31-26 home) in the NL East standings. The Nationals meanwhile sit seven games out of a Wild Card berth, with three clubs (the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks) to bypass. That’s looking like a tall task in itself and one the bookmakers don’t expect the club to achieve; the Nationals are 18/1 to win the NL pennant. The Nationals, a preseason favorite, now sit at 40/1 to win the World Series.

Returning to the now, Justin Upton has successfully hit in 10 straight, notching four homers and a .405 average. He has been a big part of the Braves’ current run, a run the team will look to continue on Tuesday night.

The Braves welcomed back centerfielder B.J. Upton Monday. Upton had been on the 15-day DL with a hand injury. The club may have another centerfielder back on the roster soon, as Jordan Schaefer began a rehab stint with Triple-A Gwinnett this past weekend. Backup catcher Gerald Laird (stomach) was placed on the DL on Saturday.

Washington rightfielder Jayson Werth, who has been listed as day-to-day with a groin injury, pinch hit in Monday’s series opener after being scratched from the starting lineup. He remains day-to-day for Tuesday’s game.

The Braves are now 8-3 in the season head-to-head and have won all four games at Nationals Park. Fredi Gonzalez’s club has outscored the Nationals 21-7 in those four games.

Atlanta is 14-4 since the All-Star break, while Washington is a paltry 6-11.

Julio Teheran starts for the Braves on Tuesday.

Julio Teheran starts for the Braves on Tuesday.

Julio Teheran (8-5, 3.02 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Braves. The 22-year-old has had his ups and downs this season but picked up a big win last time out (Aug. 1), yielding just one run on five hits as he struck out a career-high 11 batters against the Colorado Rockies. The right-hander has a 1.00 ERA over his last three starts.

In three games against the Nationals this season, the right-hander has recorded a 0-1 record allowing a total of nine runs on 23 hits. On the plus side, he has struck out 20 batters over that time span

The Nationals will send Gio Gonzalez (7-4, 3.57 ERA) to the mound. Gonzalez has been frustrated by a lack of offensive support that has seen him fail to record a decision in 11 outings this season. In his last outing he was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers, allowing 10 earned runs on 11 hits, including a pair of homer, in just 3 1/3 innings of play.

Things haven’t been much better against the Braves this season. In three games facing the NL East leaders, the 27-year-old southpaw has a 0-2 record. He allowed seven runs and five runs respectively in a pair of April games, before shoring things up on June 1 with a three-hit, one-run offering. Still, the Braves went on to win that game 2-1 as the Washington offensive again failed to show up. Gonzalez will be hoping to secure that elusive first win on Tuesday, snapping Atlanta’s winning streak in the process.

Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals odds for 8/6/13 are available now.

Gio Gonzalez will look to end Atlanta's winning streak.

Gio Gonzalez will look to end Atlanta’s winning streak.

Washington (-129) opens favored over Atlanta (+119) despite the latter’s recent run of good form. The Braves however own a 4-0 record at Nationals Park this season, winning as the underdog each time.

The over/under opened at 7 but has been bumped up to 7 ½ with most sportsbooks.

Atlanta (58-49-6) has favored the over this season while Washington (52-56-4) has favored the under. In 11 games between the two clubs this season, the total has gone over four times and under seven times. Five of the last six meetings have seen the total go under. The four games played at Nationals Park have split the over/under evenly.

The series concludes Wednesday (7:05 p.m. ET) with Atlanta’s Kris Medlan (8-10, 3.85 ERA) facing Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman (13-6, 3.06 ERA).

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