May 18, 2015

The Atlanta Braves have pulled the plug on the woeful Eric Stults in their starting rotation, and will turn to a rookie in his place.

Williams Perez makes his first career start Wednesday night when the Braves complete a two-game home series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Stults won a spot in the rotation in spring training, but a three-start stretch this month in which he amassed a 7.00 ERA and allowed six homers over 18 innings in three defeats prompted a change.

Atlanta (18-20) has decided to give Perez (0-0, 15.43 ERA) a few starts. The right-hander was recalled from the minors May 6 and has yielded four runs over 2 1-3 innings in two relief appearances.

"(He) is a guy who throws strikes and he has a good mixture of pitches," manager Fredi Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "He's a young guy that could help us in the rotation in the future. So we'll give him an opportunity to start."

Perez, who will turn 24 on Thursday, went 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Gwinnett.

Atlanta was hurt by the inexperience of starter Mike Foltynewicz in Tuesday's 5-3 defeat. Foltynewicz, making his fourth career start, allowed the Rays to score twice with two outs in the fifth inning to take the lead.

''You can't let your guard down, especially after striking out the first two guys in that inning," Gonzalez said. "But that's what you have to live with when you have a young pitcher.''

The Braves bolstered their bullpen by agreeing Monday to a one-year contract with right-hander Nick Masset, who was designated for assignment by Miami the day before. Masset worked a perfect inning in his club debut Tuesday.

''It was a little disheartening for me, but we're just players and we go out and do what we're supposed to do,'' he said. ''To be picked up by the Braves, that's kind of a dream come true for me, too.''

Tampa Bay (22-18) moved into a tie for first place in the AL East with the New York Yankees. Asdrubal Cabrera homered and Logan Forsythe and David DeJesus had RBIs in the two-run fifth inning.

Steven Souza Jr. singled in a run in the first inning after entering Tuesday at 2 for 26 with runners in scoring position for baseball's second-worst mark.

Evan Longoria collected his 14th RBI this month after amassing four in April.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 2.36) has been plagued by one of baseball's worst run support averages at 2.36. That problem surfaced Friday when he allowed three runs over six-plus innings in a 3-2 loss at Minnesota.

The right-hander has yielded homers in consecutive outings after allowing none over his first 40 2-3 innings. He hasn't issued a walk in 26 innings over his last four starts.

Odorizzi has never faced the Braves. The Atlanta hitter he has seen the most is Nick Markakis, who is 5 for 11 with a homer in this matchup.

Braves left fielder Todd Cunningham, recalled from the minors Friday, improved to 9 for 15 this year with a double in three at-bats Tuesday.

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