Rick Porcello has been a reliable presence on the mound this season and the Boston Red Sox need more of that following another taxing effort for the bullpen.
Porcello looks to extend the best start of his career Monday night as the Red Sox try to continue their success against the struggling Atlanta Braves.
Porcello (3-0, 4.66 ERA) is 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 11 starts since returning from a strained right triceps that landed him on the disabled list for nearly a month last year. The right-hander has gone at least six innings in each of those starts for the longest such streak in the AL.
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"Yeah, that's my job," Porcello said. "I want to go out there and pitch deep into games. I want to continue to do so, continue to improve on things I might not be doing so well. Just keep working and not get complacent."
He delivered in a big way Wednesday, allowing three runs with a season-high nine strikeouts in seven innings of a 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. It was his longest outing of 2016 and came a day after Boston used six relievers over 9 1/3 innings of a 3-0 loss in 10 to the Rays.
"Knowing we needed a deep start, he gave us everything we could have asked for," manager John Farrell said.
Another deep outing from Porcello in the opener of this four-game, two-city series would be appreciated after Farrell went to the bullpen five times during Sunday's 7-5, 12-inning win at Houston. The relievers accounted for 8 2-3 innings, the second-longest effort by the bullpen this season.
Porcello is taking the mound at Turner Field for the first time. He's split two career starts against the Braves (4-14) with a 4.97 ERA, losing the most recent 4-2 on June 15. He permitted four runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.
This time, he's facing an Atlanta team that has been outscored 24-11 during a five-game skid and owns the worst record in the majors.
The Red Sox (9-9) have also won 10 of the past 13 road meetings with the Braves and eight of 10 overall.
Atlanta failed to capitalize on a season-high 12 hits Sunday, falling 3-2 to the New York Mets.
The Braves are turning to Julio Teheran (0-2, 5.64), who is off to the worst start of his career.
The right-hander's last scheduled start was pushed back one day due to an illness, which he battled along with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Wednesday's 5-3, 10-inning loss. He allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Teheran is 0-4 with a 7.02 ERA over his last six interleague starts, including a 9-4 loss at Boston on June 16. He was tagged for six runs and a career-high 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings.
He'll have to contend with a hot Dustin Pedroia, who is 10 for 22 with five extra-base hits, three RBIs and four runs over the last four games. He's batting .387 during an eight-game stretch against Atlanta.
Boston's Travis Shaw has gone 8 for 22 over the past five contests to raise his team-leading average to .333.