By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The Atlanta Braves may be in search of an offensive spark, but they appear to be close to landing an impact piece for their rotation.
With a potential trade for Ryan Dempster seemingly in the works, Tim Hudson looks to continue his dominance of the Miami Marlins and help the Braves snap a three-game skid Tuesday night.
Atlanta (52-44) has totaled four runs and batted .181 during its losing streak. That has dropped the Braves 4 1/2 games back of first-place Washington in the East after they were as close as 1 1/2 following a 4-0 win over the Nationals to open Saturday's doubleheader.
Their offensive struggles continued in Monday's series opener as they were held to four hits in a 2-1 loss.
Although they've struggled lately to score, the Braves still are among the NL leaders in runs and the addition of Dempster from the Chicago Cubs would help fortify a staff that ranks ninth in the league in ERA.
Dempster, whose 2.11 ERA leads the majors, has to approve the trade, according to the Braves' official website. However, the Cubs are denying that a deal is in place.
"I know what you guys know, basically the same thing, maybe a little bit more. I'm not going to lie to you about that," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team's official website. "But that's all I know right now. We're in a holding pattern."
In the meantime, Hudson (8-4, 3.70 ERA) will try to win a fourth straight start against the Marlins. He's 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA in those three outings, pitching a five-hitter in an 11-0 victory in Miami on June 5. The right-hander is 8-1 with a 2.42 ERA in 12 lifetime starts there.
The five-hitter was the second of four straight road wins for Hudson, who's compiled a 0.63 ERA during that span.
First baseman Freddie Freeman is 3 for 16 in the past four games after hitting .429 in 11 contests prior to that stretch. He has a .188 average in 15 road matchups against the Marlins.
Miami (45-51) ended a five-game slide Monday, but may already be looking toward next season after dealing second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez to Detroit on Monday in exchange for 21-year-old righty Jacob Turner and a pair of minor leaguers.
"We lost a couple of guys that we thought we had all the way until the end, but unfortunately we're not playing good enough to keep those guys," manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Guillen is expected to turn to Mark Buehrle (9-9, 3.29), who lost for the first time in five starts Thursday. The left-hander was tagged for four runs and six hits in five innings of a 4-2 loss at Chicago. He had a 0.94 ERA while winning his previous four starts.
"It seemed like I had nothing working," Buehrle said. "Changeup, couldn't throw that for a strike. I think I threw one good one the whole day."
Buehrle has split two starts this year against the Braves, allowing two runs and three hits over six innings of an 8-2 home loss on June 7.
Updated July 24, 2012