The Chicago Cubs (31-50) and Atlanta Braves (42-39) will close out a four-game National League series on Thursday night at Turner Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 ET
Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves
Chicago is playings its best baseball of the 2012 campaign, winning seven of its last nine games, including a 5-1 road victory over Atlanta on the Fourth of July. “We’re obviously playing a lot better baseball than we were the first two months,” commented Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm. Part of that recent success can be attributed to the call up of rookie first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is batting .323 with three home runs and six RBIs in eight games. Chicago is 6-17 versus left-handed starters, with the “under” going 11-10 in those contests.
Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza (4-6, 4.01 ERA) has alternated wins and losses over his last four outings, coming off a 3-2 home win over the Houston Astros last time out, giving up two runs and nine hits over 5.1 innings of work. The right-hander is 2-5 with a 5.22 ERA in nine road outings, but opposing hitters are batting just .225 against him. In two career games versus the Braves, Garza has registered an 0-1 record and 4.50 ERA, including an 8-3 home loss on Aug. 25 of last year.
Atlanta has managed just four wins in its last 11 games, falling further behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East standings. “Sometimes, man, you meet a team that’s playing good baseball,” commented Braves outfielder Michael Bourn. He will need to play a major part in this contest, hitting .310 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs this season, as he’s a candidate to win the Final Vote to land on the NL All-Star team. Atlanta is 7-4 as a home favorite of -125 to -150, while the “over” has cashed in six of those games.
Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (4-6, 6.20 ERA) earned his first victory since June 7 last time out, allowing four runs and five hits over five frames in a 7-5 home win over the Washington Nationals. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 5.55 ERA in six home starts, issuing 15 walks and collecting 25 strikeouts in 35.2 combined innings. In three career starts versus the Braves, Minor has registered a perfect 3-0 record and 4.86 ERA.
Bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 4-1 record in Minor’s last five starts as a favorite of -110 to -150, while the Cubs are 1-6 in Garza’s last seven road efforts.