|Surging Braves chase sweep of Marlins|
Atlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka will attempt to keep his strong rookie season going in the right direction on Thursday when he faces the Miami Marlins, a team he's dominated this year.
Soroka (10-2, 2.41 ERA) will be opposed by Miami's Sandy Alcantara (4-11, 4.35) in the finale of a three-game series at Atlanta's SunTrust Park.
The Braves won the first two games of the series and improved to 14-4 against the Marlins. It is the second straight season Atlanta has won 14 games against Miami.
The last team in the majors to beat a single opponent at least 14 times in consecutive seasons was the Washington Nationals, who went 14-5 and 15-4 against the Braves in 2015 and '16.
Miami has lost 11 straight road games and five consecutive games overall. Atlanta is riding a four-game winning streak.
Soroka has made three starts against the Marlins this season, going 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA. He has allowed three runs, one earned, with 18 strikeouts in 22 innings against Miami this season. He last faced the Marlins on Aug. 10 and did not receive a decision despite firing seven shutout innings and allowing only three hits.
Soroka pitched well again in his latest start. Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He left the game with the lead, only to have the oft-troubled Atlanta bullpen falter late and deprive Soroka of the victory.
"It happens, especially with a lineup like that," said Soroka, who yielded three runs in 6 2/3 innings vs. the Dodgers. "You know you're going to give up runs. You can't expect perfection. I think (the relievers) have tried hard to work through this. I think they're going to go out there with the belief they will shut it down every single time, and so are we."
Alcantara will make his team-leading 25th start on Thursday. He has lost a career-high five consecutive decisions over nine starts. His ERA during that stretch, beginning on June 27 against the Washington Nationals, is 5.77.
However, he has pitched well during three August starts, going 0-1 with a 3.20 ERA. In his latest start, the right-hander gave up two runs on three hits over seven innings in a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday in Denver.
"When I come out in the first inning and don't let hitters get a chance, I go deep into the game," Alcantara said. "Just be aggressive every time and keep taking advantage of it."
Alcantara has faced the Braves twice in his career, both this year, compiling a 3.86 ERA and no decisions over 11 2/3 innings. He last faced them on Aug. 10 at Marlins Park and took a shutout into the eighth inning before he allowed three runs. He struck out six and walked two over 7 2/3 innings.
The Braves will be without veteran catcher Brian McCann, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday due to a sprained left knee. McCann had to leave the game with discomfort in the fourth inning of the series opener on Tuesday.
Atlanta recalled catcher Alex Jackson from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he had hit 25 home runs in 81 games. Jackson was a 2014 first-round pick of the Seattle Mariners who began his career as an outfielder. He was 0-for-10 with Atlanta in April when he called up the first time.
--Field Level Media