Blue Jays-Braves Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- The Atlanta Braves have been scoring plenty of runs since struggling to score during their worst single-season losing streak in two years.
Brandon Beachy wouldn't mind if the team's scoring surge continued.
Beachy looks to avoid losing a fourth consecutive start in Friday night's series opener at Turner Field, where the Braves go for a seventh consecutive victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Since hitting .178 and averaging 2.5 runs during an 0-8 skid May 21-28 - the club's worst single-season stretch since dropping nine straight April 21-29, 2010 - Atlanta (32-25) is scoring 5.6 runs per game during a 6-1 run.
The Braves hit a season-high four homers in Thursday's 8-2 victory to complete a three-game sweep over Miami.
"Our bats came alive," Jason Heyward said after hitting two solo shots.
The Braves, who have played a NL-low 23 home games, open a nine-game stretch at Turner Field with Beachy (5-4, 1.87 ERA) going for his first victory in more than three weeks.
Atlanta, winner of 11 of 13 in interleague play, has scored five total runs during the right-hander's personal skid. Beachy, though, hasn't done himself many favors by walking four in each of his last two outings.
"Can't make mistakes in a game like that and I made far too many of them," he said after throwing 6 1-3 innings of two-run ball in Saturday's 2-0 loss at Washington. "I put people on and they're going to score."
Despite recent control issues, Beachy has the majors' lowest ERA, and he's been even better (0.96) in four starts at Turner Field, where his opponents are batting .162.
Beachy will make his second start against Toronto after striking out a career-best 11 and giving up one run - a Jose Bautista homer - in a 5-1 home win June 22. That completed Atlanta's second consecutive three-game sweep - both at Turner Field - in this series.
The Blue Jays (30-27) arrive in Atlanta after getting denied a fourth consecutive victory with Thursday's 4-3 road loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Toronto, though, has to feel good about the likely return of Edwin Encarnacion. The third baseman, the team leader with 17 homers and 43 RBIs, has been out since getting hit on the right hand by a pitch on Sunday.
"As the swelling has gone down, the increase in strength is there and we fully expect him to be in the lineup tomorrow," manager John Farrell told the Blue Jays' official website.
Having Encarnacion's bat back in the lineup could help Friday's scheduled starter Kyle Drabek (4-6, 4.65), who has a 10.24 ERA while losing his last two starts. The right-hander has walked 41 - second-most in the majors.
Drabek has never faced the Braves.
Blue Jays left fielder Rajai Davis is questionable after missing Thursday's game with a jammed middle finger on his left hand. He is a career .182 hitter (4 for 22) in Atlanta.
Bautista's only hit in 11 at-bats in last season's series at Turner Field was the homer off Beachy.
Braves catcher Brian McCann was 4 for 7 with two homers and four RBIs in that series to improve his career batting average versus Toronto to .410 (16 for 39).
Updated June 8, 2012