Jason Heyward is not in this alone even though it may seem like it. The young Atlanta Braves slugger hopes to continue his latest surge tonight in the middle installment of a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks at Turner Field.
Heyward, the reigning National League Player of the Week, was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in Tuesday's series-opening 8-1 win for the Braves. He has hit safely in 11 straight and 19 of his last 23 games, and is 29-for-73 this month with nine multi-hit efforts. Heyward, who moved up to second in the batting order on Tuesday, has 16 runs and 13 RBI in June.
"I just wanted to put our best three hitters right now together, guys who are getting on base and swinging the bat," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said on the club's official website. "I think we've scored enough runs to win games. That hasn't been an issue. But [Heyward] sure has played well the last seven or eight days."
Michael Bourn homered and scored twice, Freddie Freeman had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI and Chipper Jones contributed three hits for Atlanta, which won for the fifth time in 14 tries and is 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the NL East lead. The Braves kicked off a 10-game homestand last night and got another strong start from veteran right-hander Tim Hudson. Hudson held the D-backs to a run in eight innings and struck out seven.
"It's a good way to get the homestand started," Hudson said. "We haven't played particularly well at home this year. Hopefully we finish the first half on a good note."
The Braves will also host the Nationals and Cubs, and are scheduled to send Tommy Hanson to the mound Wednesday. Hanson is 3-0 in his past four starts and barely got the win in last Wednesday's 10-5 victory at Yankee Stadium, where he was charged with four runs and five hits in five innings. He is now 8-4 in 15 starts this season to go along with a 3.54 earned run average.
Hanson, who is 5-1 in his last six decisions, defeated Arizona back on April 21 with seven innings of two-run ball and seven K's in a 3-2 triumph. The righty is 2-1 with a 3.91 ERA in four career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona had a four-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday and received a bit of a scare when starting pitcher Daniel Hudson left after just 1 2/3 innings with a sore elbow. The damage was already done at that time for Hudson, who allowed five runs on seven hits and is slated to undergo an MRI.
"I've always had soreness in there, but it had gotten to the point where it was affecting how I was pitching out there, so I figured I had to take myself out of the game," Hudson said.
Right-hander Josh Collmenter took over for Hudson and pitched four scoreless innings of relief. Jason Kubel homered, while Aaron Hill and Miguel Montero finished with two hits apiece for the Diamondbacks, who are still 12-6 in their last 18 contests and sit five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead. San Francisco is only one game off the pace.
The Diamondbacks have homered in a season-high seven straight games (15 total). They had an eight-game run from Aug. 7-14, 2011.
D-backs center fielder Chris Young was out of the starting lineup for a second straight game and is just 4-for-44 since June 10. Young is batting .220 with five homers and 16 RBI this season.
"He's been grinding pretty hard, he's been searching for it," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson told the ballclub's website. "I'm just kind of taking the initiative to slow him down a little bit."
Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew is expected to come off the 15-day disabled list in time to start Wednesday's game. Drew has been sidelined since last July with a broken right ankle suffered in a collision at home plate, and played in 11 minor league games.
Trevor Cahill draws the start for Gibson's club tonight and he has won four straight trips to the mound. He did allow six runs and nine hits in six innings of a 14-10 victory versus Seattle last Wednesday, but pushed his mark to 6-5 in 14 starts with a 3.47 ERA.
Cahill, a right-hander, lost his first career appearance against the Braves on April 20, when he was reached for seven runs -- four earned -- over 5 2/3 innings of a 9-1 loss.
Atlanta won three of four meetings with Arizona from April 19-22 in the desert and has prevailed in eight of the past 11 matchups between the clubs. The Braves have won five in a row as the host in this series.