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Surging Braves Look To Sweep Bucs

A winner in his last two, Alex Wood will look to lead the Braves to a sweep of the Pirates.

A winner in his last two, Alex Wood will look to lead the Braves to a sweep of the Pirates.

The Atlanta Braves will look to stretch their current winning streak to six games Wednesday as they finish a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team looking to avoid an eighth straight loss.

First pitch at PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

20140819_NL_EastAfter recording a definitive 11-3 victory on Tuesday night, Atlanta (66-60, 29-32 road) is showcasing the sort of form that had the team top of the NL East pack for much of the early part of the season. Manager Fredi González is hoping the club can retain its current form and make a push for the postseason.

The Braves are currently six games back of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals, and with six head-to-head games left on the docket – all of which fall in September – a climb back to the top of the division is by no means out of the question.

The Braves will have to work hard though to force their way back into the picture.

Failure to secure the NL East crown might not prove costly though. Atlanta is well and truly a fixture in the current wild card scenario, entering Wednesday’s game in a virtual tie with the San Francisco Giants. A win on Wednesday could break that tie.

A win on Wednesday would also see the Braves record a first three-game sweep in Pittsburgh since 2001.

20140819_NL_CentralLike the Braves, Pittsburgh (64-62, 39-26 home) has its eye on the postseason and, like the Braves, there’s still a lot of work to be done.

The Pirates still have an outside shot at the NL Central title, but with both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals ahead in the race, and with both playing good baseball, Clint Hurdle’s side may be left looking for a wild card berth.

Right now, the Pirates are two games back of Atlanta and San Francisco for the second spot, and 4 1/2 back of St. Louis for the primary berth.

The Pirates dropped Monday’s series opener 7-3 before being crushed on Tuesday. That makes it seven straight losses, and nine in the last 11, for the Bucs, a trend that has alarm bells ringing in the Steel City.

If the Pirates are to successfully follow up last season’s first postseason appearance in 20 years, they need wins and they need wins now.

Pitching matchup

Wednesday’s series finale serves up a pitching matchup between talented youngsters.

Gerrit Cole (7-4, 3.78 ERA) will toe the rubber for Pittsburgh. The 23-year-old right-hander will be making his first start since July 4, having spent the last six weeks or so on the disabled list with a back injury.

  • Cole has never faced the Atlanta Braves
  • Cole is 9-6 with a 3.68 ERA in 19 career games (19 starts) at PNC Park
  • Cole has not faced the Atlanta Braves this season
  • Cole is 3-1 with a 3.56 ERA in 7 games (7 starts) at PNC Park this season

Alex Wood (9-9, 3.07 ERA) will take the mound for the visiting Braves. The 23-year-old left-hander recorded wins in his last two outings – home games with the Nationals and Oakland Athletics – and will be looking to make it a hat trick on Wednesday.

  • Wood is 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 1 career game (0 starts) vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Wood has never played at PNC Park
  • Wood has not faced the Pittsburgh Pirates this season
  • Wood has not played at PNC Park this season

Injury report

The Pirates welcomed back Andrew McCutcheon on Tuesday. McCutcheon, who missed two weeks of action with injured ribs, went 0 for 4 on the night, but will be looking to bounce back.

Starling Marte also made his return to the Pirates lineup earlier this week. The Buccos continue to play without backup shortstop Clint Barmes (groin), currently undergoing rehab assignments.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons left Tuesday’s game with a hip injury. He’s listed as day-to-day going forward.

Andrew McCutcheon's return on Tuesday failed to halt the Pirates' skid.

Andrew McCutcheon’s return on Tuesday failed to halt the Pirates’ skid.

Atlanta Braves vs. Pittsburgh Pirates odds for 08/20/2014

Pittsburgh (-121) opened as the moneyline favorite over Atlanta (+111) despite having been bested so far in this series, and despite the fact that the Braves have eaten the NL Central alive this season.

With a pair of wins earlier this week, Atlanta has now won five straight against Pittsburgh. The Braves have also taken seven of the last 10 head-to-head matchups.

Some other trends to consider:

  • Atlanta is 49-40 in night games
  • Pittsburgh is 49-36 in night games
  • Atlanta is 17-7 vs. NL Central opponents
  • Pittsburgh is 14-11 vs. NL East opponents
  • Atlanta is 51-50 vs. right-handed pitching
  • Pittsburgh is 14-12 vs. left-handed pitching
  • Atlanta is 8-9 since August 1
  • Pittsburgh is 7-11 since August 1
  • Atlanta is 14-13 since the All-Star break
  • Pittsburgh is 15-18 since the All-Star break

The total opened at 7 and has remained constant.

The total has gone over in four of Atlanta’s last five road games, and four of Pittsburgh’s last five home games.

The over has also paid out in four of the last five head-to-head meetings between the two clubs, including both games this series.


Following Wednesday night’s series finale, Atlanta will stay in the NL Central and face the Cincinnati Reds in a four-game series at Great American Ballpark. The series runs Thursday through Sunday.

Pittsburgh will hit the road for a three-game set with the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, starting Friday.


For a full list of today’s Major League Baseball odds, click here.

For MLB Futures odds, courtesy of Bovada, click here.

For team prop bets, click here.

For player prop bets, click here.

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