Pitching has been atrocious for the Atlanta Braves during their season-high eight-game losing streak.
Currently tied with Philadelphia for last place in the National League East, the Braves look to end the winless drought tonight in the second installment of a three-game series versus the St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field.
Tommy Hanson was the latest pitching victim for Atlanta in Monday's 8-2 loss on Memorial Day and he was tagged for six runs and eight hits in only 3 1/3 innings of work. Kris Medlen came on in relief and was reached for a pair of runs in 2 2/3 innings.
"I was just battling all day. I made pitches at times, but I wasn't consistent with my fastball command," Hanson said after his club fell to 0-4 on a six- game homestand. "Against a good hitting team, that's not a good recipe."
Juan Francisco stroked a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning to account for Atlanta's only runs. Catcher Brian McCann was back behind the plate and had not started a game since last Monday because of the flu. He finished 0-for-4 at the plate and was charged with a passed ball.
"I felt fine today," McCann said. "I felt like I couldn't have picked a better day to come back."
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is still bothered by vision problems, but could return tonight. Freeman has missed the last three games and four of five for the Braves, who last dropped nine in a row from April 21-29, 2010.
Atlanta could match that mark with Randall Delgado set to take the mound tonight and he is 0-5 in his last seven starts. Delgado suffered his second straight loss in Thursday's 6-3 setback at Cincinnati, as he permitted four runs for the second straight outing in 5 1/3 innings to fall to 2-5 in nine starts to go along with a pedestrian 4.53 earned run average.
Delgado, who started the 2012 campaign with consecutive wins, is 1-2 in four starts at Turner Field this season. The right-hander faced St. Louis the only time in his career during a 4-3 loss at Busch Stadium last Sept. 9, when he did not record a decision and allowed just one run in five innings.
St. Louis opened its season-long 10-day, 11-game road trip last night on a high note and scored eight runs for the second straight games. The Cardinals, who ended a three-game slide with Sunday's 8-3 win over the Phillies, gave plenty of run support to Lance Lynn, who joined the major league leaders with his eighth win of the season by tossing seven innings of two-run ball and striking out eight batters with just one walk.
Marc Rzepczynski and Eduardo Sanchez each tossed a scoreless inning of relief to preserve Lynn's solid day under the sun.
"I might have had my best stuff of the year," Lynn said on the club's website. "I knew where everything was going for the most part."
Matt Adams finished with three hits and knocked in three runs, while Daniel Descalso belted a two-run homer and Rafael Furcal added a solo shot for the Cardinals, who won for the fifth time in eight tries and sit one-half game behind Cincinnati for the NL Central lead.
The Cardinals will also visit New York (4 games) and Houston (3 games) on the current road trip and hope third baseman David Freese will be back in the lineup after sitting out Monday's win with a sore right wrist. Freese apparently jammed the wrist diving in a game last week.
"We're just going to try and get ahead of anything," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He could be playing. But when he has little things like that come up, we try and nip it in the bud."
Jake Westbrook hopes to end his losing ways when he toes the rubber tonight. He is 0-1 in his last three starts -- all St. Louis losses -- and suffered through his worst outing of the season in Thursday's 10-9 loss to Philadelphia. Westbrook lasted a season-low 3 2/3 innings and was reached for a season-high six runs and eight hits, falling to 4-3 in nine starts and raising his earned run average from 2.58 to 3.38.
Westbrook is 2-2 in four road starts this season and 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA in four career starts against the Braves.
Atlanta swept a three-game set in St. Louis from May 11-13.