ATLANTA (AP) — A lack of run support has been the biggest reason the usually solid Tommy Hanson hasn’t won in nearly two months.
At the rate his Atlanta Braves have been scoring, he might just need to make it through five innings to end the drought Wednesday night.
Hanson looks to bounce back from a pair of shaky outings and ride Atlanta’s offensive surge against the New York Mets at Turner Field, where that elusive victory would extend his team’s winning streak to five.
Hanson (8-10, 3.76 ERA) has received 14 runs of support during his past 10 starts, which explains his 0-5 record in that stretch despite a 3.08 ERA.
He can’t fault the Braves’ offense for his past two outings, though. After giving up five runs in five innings of a 5-4 loss to Chicago on Aug. 21, Hanson surrendered four homers and seven runs over five innings of a 7-1 defeat to Florida on Friday.
All four home runs came on fastballs down the middle of the plate.
“He just left his pitches up,” catcher Brian McCann said. “Tommy has got to establish his fastball. It makes every pitch off that better.”
McCann and the Braves (77-55) mustered six hits in Hanson’s latest start – their fourth straight loss – but they’ve been red hot at the plate since. Atlanta has totaled 37 runs during its four-game winning streak, beating the Mets 9-2 on Tuesday.
“It’s a long season,” first baseman Derrek Lee said. “I think you’re going to have little blips here and there, but it’s how you respond to them. I think this team shows its character by bouncing right back.”
Jason Heyward continued his tear with a pair of RBIs, giving him 11 in a nine-game stretch in which he’s gone 18 for 37.
He’s about to be joined by another left-handed hitting rookie who dominated the minor leagues. First baseman Freddie Freeman, named the Triple-A International League’s Rookie of the Year after hitting .319 with 18 homers and 87 RBIs, will be called up on the first day of roster expansion.
Freeman, Heyward’s roommate since the two players began their pro careers three years ago, figures to occasionally fill in for Lee the rest of the way before getting a shot at the starting job next season.
“He’s been screaming pretty loud for about a month,” general manager Frank Wren told the Braves’ official website. “He’s done everything and more that we could expect from a 20-year-old at Triple-A.”
Hanson has gone 1-1 with a 1.02 ERA in three career starts against New York (65-67), a far better line than counterpart Mike Pelfrey (13-7, 3.61) has versus Atlanta. The right-hander is 4-7 with a 5.45 ERA, and didn’t make it through the fifth in either of his most recent matchups with the Braves.
Pelfrey, however, has been outstanding after enduring a seven-start winless stretch. He improved to 3-1 with a 1.20 ERA since then by holding Houston to six hits over eight scoreless innings in a 2-1 win Friday.
“I got so far away from being myself and doing what I did early in the year and being successful. I’ve gotten back to that,” Pelfrey said. “The next time there’s some adversity or struggles, it shouldn’t be from getting away from doing what makes me me.”
McCann is 18 for 37 (.486) with 10 extra-base hits against Pelfrey, but Heyward is 0 for 8.
The Mets shipped former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur to Texas for infielder Joaquin Arias after Tuesday’s loss.
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