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Struggling Braves resume homestand against Cubs

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Braves will resume a nine-game homestand Friday when they play the first of three straight games versus the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field.

The Braves have lost eight of their last nine games and recently dropped two of three meetings with the St. Louis Cardinals, including Wednesday's 7-1 setback in the series finale.

Mike Minor was rattled for six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings to absorb the loss, while Freddie Freeman had two hits and knocked in the lone run. Justin Upton had two hits for the Braves, who are 1-5 on the homestand.

"We're not playing good baseball right now," said Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson. "We want to turn that around. A lot of baseball left, so I think we'll be all right."

Hoping to pitch the Braves back on track tonight will be Julio Teheran. Teheran is 2-2 with a 1.80 earned run average in seven starts and was beaten by San Francisco the last time out on Saturday in a 3-1 loss. Teheran allowed three runs in seven innings, struck out seven and did not walk a batter.

Teheran is 0-1 in his last three starts and 1-0 with a 4.91 earned run average in two career starts against the Cubs.

Meanwhile, the Cubs ended a four-game losing streak and avoided a sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox in Thursday's 12-5 win at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Cubs, who had lost the first three meetings with the crosstown White Sox, received home runs from Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Mike Olt. Olt belted a grand slam in a five-run top of the eighth inning.

Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta lasted only four innings and allowed four runs -- three earned -- and nine hits in the no-decision.

"I'm still not happy with it and I won't be until I get out there the next go round," Arrieta said. "Just need to make some adjustments; be better commanding the ball down in the zone."

Brian Schlitter followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for the win.

Chicago will also visit the Cardinals for four games on this road trip and hopes Jason Hammel can earn his fifth win of the season. Hammel is 2-0 in his last three starts and did not receive a decision in a 5-4 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, as he gave up three runs in six innings.

Hammel had given up just one run in his previous two outings and remained 4-1 after six starts with a 2.43 ERA. He has lasted at least six innings in every start and has struggled in six career starts against Atlanta, going 1-3 with a 6.39 ERA.

The Cubs and Braves are meeting for the first time this season. Atlanta went 5-1 in the 2013 series with Chicago, which has dropped four in a row at Turner Field.

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