Aaron Harang was at a crossroads in his career after being unwanted by several teams before the Atlanta Braves gave him a chance in their rotation last season.
Harang made the most of that opportunity, and he's put together a fine start to 2015 after signing with the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason.
The veteran faces his former team Friday night as the Braves visit the Phillies to open a three-game series.
Harang has appeared in the majors with seven teams over the last six seasons and also was released by Colorado and Cleveland in that stretch before pitching for either club.
He found some stability in 2014, going 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 33 starts for Atlanta. It marked his most outings and innings pitched (204 1-3) since 2007 while with Cincinnati.
Harang then signed a one-year, $5 million contract that includes incentives with the Phillies. He's 2-1 with 1.96 ERA after giving up three runs in six innings of Saturday's 5-3 win at Washington after allowing one run over 12 1-3 in his first two outings.
"(I'm trying) to get in and out of innings very quick. That's always key," Harang said. "The quicker you can get the guys off the field, the more they're going to go to bat for you."
Manager Ryne Sandberg has been impressed with Harang, who turns 37 on May 9.
"He's a veteran guy out there," Sandberg said. "He makes big pitches. He hung in there (Saturday) and gave us the quality start we needed."
Philadelphia's woes mainly have been due to a lack of offense. The Phillies (5-11) rank last in the majors with 41 runs and near the bottom with a .213 batting average after a 9-1 loss to Miami on Thursday.
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley sat out for Philadelphia, which scored on Cesar Hernandez's sacrifice fly in the ninth. The Phillies made two errors after having three in Wednesday's 6-1 defeat and are among the major league leaders with 17.
''We've got some work to do,'' Sandberg said. ''We've got to tighten up our defense and play smarter.''
The Braves (8-7) had their own struggles at the plate while getting swept in a three-game series by the New York Mets, totaling six runs. Andrelton Simmons had two hits and two RBIs in Thursday's 6-3 defeat.
"We had more chances to get some more runs with guys on base," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We hit some balls really hard that they made some nice plays on. But that's baseball."
Alex Wood (1-0, 3.93) takes the mound looking to help Atlanta avoid a fifth loss in six games. He pitched 6 1-3 scoreless innings before being charged with three runs and recording one more out in a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Toronto on Saturday.
The left-hander failed to record a strikeout for the first time in 38 career starts.
''It's kind of weird,'' first baseman Freddie Freeman said. ''I don't think he had a strikeout all game, but he kept the defense in it and that's what a pitcher's got to do - keep us in the game. He definitely did that.''
Wood kept the Phillies off balance in two starts last season, striking out seven over eight innings of a 1-0 loss April 17 before allowing one run with eight strikeouts in six innings of an 8-2 victory July 20.