Tonight in MLB: Braves aim for 8-1 start

Tonight in MLB: Braves aim for 8-1 start
April 10, 2013, 1:15 pm
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The Phillies battle the Mets in the rubber match of a three-game set tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

After dropping the first game of the series, the Phillies defeated the Mets, 8-3, last night behind 8 2/3 innings from Cliff Lee and home runs from Ryan Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry, Jr. (see game wrap).

Here is a preview of some other games around Major League Baseball tonight:

Braves (7-1) at Marlins (1-7), 7:10 p.m.

A win tonight will give the Braves back-to-back series sweeps of the Cubs and Marlins. Atlanta bolstered its lineup this offseason, but so far the pitching staff has been carrying the team. The Braves have allowed just 18 runs in eight games and have baseball’s best team ERA at 2.13.

Mike Minor will start for Atlanta tonight, hoping to duplicate his previous outing. Against the Cubs, Minor tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out seven and walking none. Not bad from the fourth starter.

The Braves will need to get the bats going at some point, as they only have five runs in the first two games of this series. Evan Gattis’ first inning two-run home run and Justin Upton’s eighth inning RBI double was all the offense Atlanta needed last night in its 3-2 win. Miami managed just four hits, two of them by Placido Polanco.

The Marlins will look to avoid a fifth straight loss and a second series sweep tonight when they send Alex Sanabia to the mound. Sanabia earned the Marlins' only win on the year when he shut out the Mets in six innings of work. The bullpen almost blew the lead, but Miami hung on for a 7-5 win.

Giancarlo Stanton continues to struggle to begin the season, but he has past success against Minor. In six career at-bats, Stanton has taken Minor deep twice. The Marlins' right fielder would welcome a third home run off Minor tonight, as he has yet to homer or drive in a run yet this year.

White Sox (4-3) vs. Nationals (5-2), 7:05 p.m.

The White Sox comeback attempt fell just short last night against Nationals closer Rafael Soriano. Alex Rios hit a two-run home run in the ninth to trim the deficit to 8-7, but Soriano retired the next batter, Paul Konerko, for the final out. Adam LaRoche homered twice for Washington and Jayson Werth added three RBIs in the victory.

Tonight, Jordan Zimmermann and Gavin Floyd oppose each other on the mound. Zimmermann allowed just one run over six innings in a win over the Marlins in his last start. Floyd lost his first start against the Royals, but pitched fairly well. He allowed just two earned runs over six innings of work, but the Chicago lineup provided just one run of support.

Bryce Harper will look to stay hot for the Nats -- he is hitting .379 with three home runs in seven games. Rios’ home run last night gave him four on the year to go along with a .407 batting average.

Rockies (5-3) at Giants (5-3), 3:45 p.m.

Colorado and San Francisco are tied atop the NL West in the early stages of the season. The Giants will go for the series sweep of the Rockies tonight when they send Barry Zito to the mound.

Zito looked like his former self in his last start against the Cardinals. In seven innings of work, Zito struck out five, allowed just three hits and did not surrender a run to earn the win. The left-hander will have to be on top of his game again tonight if he wants to tame a Colorado lineup that has scored the third-most runs in all of baseball (47).

Jeff Francis will also look to build off an impressive first start of the season. Against the Padres, Francis gave up just one run and five hits over six innings en route to the victory.

Dexter Fowler has had a surprising power surge to start the season for the Rockies. He has four home runs already this year after hitting just 13 all of last year. Angel Pagan has been San Francisco’s most consistent bat so far this season. He is hitting .364 and already has five multi-hit games.

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