August 18, 2014

A surprising turnaround on the mound helped the Atlanta Braves give interim manager Brian Snitker his first victory, and another would give them a four-game split with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The NL-worst Braves look to notch back-to-back wins over the Pirates for the first time in nearly two calendar years with Thursday night's series finale at PNC Park.

Wednesday's 3-1 victory was Snitker's first since moving up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday to replace the fired Fredi Gonzalez. His first game, Tuesday's 12-9 loss, went similar to an 8-5 loss Monday in Gonzalez's final game.

The Pirates (21-18) pummeled the Braves (10-29) to the tune of 35 hits and four home runs between the first two games of this series, but Atlanta avoided the worst 39-game start in franchise history Wednesday.

Julio Teheran picked up his first win with 7 2/3 scoreless innings, and Arodys Vizcaino shut the door with a four-out save.

"It's a good team win," Snitker said. "It's good all around. We caught the ball well and Julio just kind of fed off of all the runs he got and just did a great job."

The Braves will try for their fifth win in the last 15 games of this series, and grabbing it likely means continuing the struggles of Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke.

Three straight quality starts were promising for Locke (1-3, 5.45 ERA), but he took a step back in Saturday's 8-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The left-hander gave up six hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings while coughing up a pair of home runs.

He walked two and struck out only three, leaving his strikeout-to-walk ratio at an NL-worst 1.19.

Locke held the Cubs to one single through three innings and was staked to a 2-0 lead after Pittsburgh's half of the fourth. He coughed it up immediately, though, with two hits and two walks leading to three Cubs runs before an out was recorded in the bottom half of the inning.

"It really felt like a tale of two games, to be honest," Locke told MLB's official website. "When the action happened for them, it happened quick."

Pittsburgh hasn't won a Locke start against Atlanta since his first appearance against the Braves in October 2012. He holds a 6.31 ERA and 1.87 WHIP in five starts since. The Braves have hit .276 against the southpaw with five home runs, though none came from current Atlanta hitters.

Mike Foltynewicz is tasked with carrying over Teheran's success into the finale.

Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.89) has made three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and has taken major strides in each.

After lasting just 3 2/3 innings and allowing four runs in his season debut, the right-hander's numbers drastically improved his last two starts. He tossed seven sharp innings with two runs allowed on five hits with a career high-tying eight strikeouts in a 5-3, 11-inning loss to Arizona on May 8 before tossing eight scoreless innings during Saturday's 5-0 win at Kansas City.

Foltynewicz picked up his first win since Aug. 8 - a stretch of five games in which he received one run of support - by limiting the Royals to seven hits in the longest outing of his three-year career.

The 24-year-old became the first Atlanta pitcher to toss at least eight shutout innings with no walks since Alex Wood on Aug. 31, 2014.

"I just went out there and attacked," he told MLB's official website. "I let the defense do the work."

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