Jurrjens hopes to rebound, draw Braves closer to first-place Nats

The Atlanta Braves hope that Jair Jurrjens' recent forgettable outing won't put him back into a funk that plagued him at the start of the season.

Jurrjens tries to rebound this afternoon when the Braves wrap an extended four-game series with the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.

After going 0-2 with a 9.37 earned run average through his initial four starts of the year, Jurrjens was demoted to the minors before being summoned back to the Braves in late June. He responded by going 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his next four starts, but was hammered on Tuesday by the San Francisco Giants.

The right-hander was charged with eight runs on eight hits and three walks over 3 1/3 innings of work, falling to 3-3 on the year while seeing his ERA jump back up from 4.97 to 6.20.

"Since the first hitter you could see they had my command," said Jurrjens. "They're a good team. I made a lot of bad pitches and they got hits on them."

Jurrjens, 26, has faced the Nationals 12 times previously, going 3-4 with a 4.67 ERA.

Ross Detwiler has moved between Washington's rotation and bullpen, but is coming off perhaps his best start of 2012.

The lefty hurled seven scoreless frames of five-hit ball on Tuesday versus the Mets without a walk. He left with the lead, but ended up with a no-decision in a 5-4 win.

Detwiler, who is winless since June 5, is 4-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 19 outings this year, including 13 starts. He last faced the Braves on June 29 and got another no-decision despite giving up four runs over 6 2/3 frames. The 26- year-old is 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA lifetime in this series.

The Braves and Nationals split a doubleheader on Saturday. Atlanta, which rallied from a 9-0 deficit to win Friday's opener, used six scoreless innings from Ben Sheets as well as homers by Brian McCann and Chipper Jones to win yesterday's opener 4-0.

"It feels the same pretty much every time," Sheets said. "It's consistent, my delivery's consistent, just trying to make pitches. Even during great runs, there's hiccups. It's how you get up and respond."

Washington saw rookie Bryce Harper exit in the second inning of the first game after bunting a ball off his foot the previous inning, but the outfielder was able to pinch-hit in a 5-2 victory in the nightcap. He singled, stole second and scored a run.

John Lannan, the Nats' Opening Day starter twice before, lost out on a spot in Washington's rotation to Detwiler and made his season debut last night. He gave up two runs over seven innings, retiring 13 of the last 14 batters faced and picking up the win thanks to Roger Bernadina's single in the seventh that plated the go-ahead run.

"He has tough times like everyone else, but he's one heck of a competitor. He showed that tonight," said Nats manager Davey Johnson, who called sending Lannan to the minors the toughest thing he's had to do this year.

The Nats snapped a three-game slide and pushed their lead back to first place in the NL East over the Braves to 2 1/2 games, while Atlanta lost for only the third time in 13 games.

Washington leads the season series, 7-4.