Phillies-Braves Preview

Now that their lengthy home skid is in the past, the Atlanta Braves can focus on helping Aaron Blair earn his first career victory.

The Braves take just their second crack of 2016 at winning back-to-back home games Thursday night against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Emergency starter Williams Perez allowed one run and two hits over eight innings and Freddie Freeman homered for a second straight night to help Atlanta (8-24) snap its 11-game losing streak at Turner Field with Wednesday's 5-1 victory over Philadelphia.

"It's nice to finally get some hits and be on the winning side of things," said Freeman, who had three of the Braves' 10 hits.

Atlanta got its second win at home, where it scored more than three runs once during that extended skid. Its 1-16 start at Turner Field was the worst opening home stretch since the 1913 Yankees began 0-17-1.

Perez, who turns 25 later this month, was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett before that contest after scheduled starter Jhoulys Chacin was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels for 23-year-old minor league pitcher Adam McCreery.

"We want to get younger," embattled Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "I can't give you a specific schedule as to when those guys are going to be here. I've always been a big believer that they will let us know (when they're ready)."

Blair (0-2, 3.31 ERA) hasn't been bad over his first three career starts, but has received two runs of support while on the mound. He didn't get any while allowing three runs, five hits and walking four in five innings of a 7-2 loss to Arizona on Friday.

Then again, Blair wasn't pleased with his contribution.

''Falling behind, leaving pitches up is not a good combination to have,'' the right-hander said.

He faces a Phillies club that is trying to finish .500 on this 10-game trip. After pounding out 19 hits in the previous two games, Philadelphia (19-15) managed four Wednesday, highlighted by Ryan Howard's eighth home run.

That is Howard's only hit in 12 at-bats over six games.

Teammate Vince Velasquez (4-1, 2.17) looks to bounce back after allowing all four of his runs in the first two innings Friday, then pitching well over the next four as the Phillies pulled even before losing 6-4 at Miami.

''I take full responsibility," Velasquez said of the outcome. "Allowing four runs on the board, so you have to figure something out, you have to change, and do whatever you have to do to prevent that."

The emotional right-hander showed his displeasure by slamming his glove down in the dugout.

''There's a lot of things you could do to get your stress out, but yeah, I could say that's probably one of them,'' Velasquez said. ''It's not my worst, though.''

He hopes to remain calm in his first appearance against the Braves.

Batting .423 in 14 games, Freeman has homered three times in the last four. He's hit .419 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 16 contests against Philadelphia.


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