New-look Braves and Cardinals continue series

MLB

The revamped Atlanta Braves offense will take another shot at the retooled St. Louis Cardinals rotation Wednesday.

“It just looks like a lineup that has potential to do some damage, like we did today,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said after his team scored a 6-1 victory at St. Louis on Tuesday.

The Braves spoiled the Cardinals debut of Jon Lester while moving within 2 1/2 games of the National League East-leading New York Mets.

Braves newcomer Jorge Soler hit a two-run homer to spark a five-run first inning. Soler is 5-for-11 with three RBIs in three games since arriving in a trade from the Kansas City Royals.

“He’s a threat,” Snitker said. “His year doesn’t seem like it went like he wanted. Recently, prior to us getting him, he was swinging the bat pretty well. He got us on the board quick today, which is good. Like I said, he’s a threat.”

J.A. Happ (5-6, 6.77 ERA) will make his first start for the Cardinals in the second game of the three-game series at Busch Stadium. He came from the Minnesota Twins in a trade shortly before Friday’s deadline.

The Cardinals dealt for him and Lester to fill in while starting pitchers Miles Mikolas (forearm strain) and Jack Flaherty (oblique strain) continue their rehabilitation assignments in the minors.

“Hopefully I can bring some leadership and hopefully, more than anything, some results,” Happ said.

He started well for the Twins this season, going 2-0 with a 1.91 ERA in his first five starts. After that, though, Happ allowed four or more earned runs in 10 of his next 14 outings.

“I never feel like I got into a rhythm that I like to get into, and that’s nobody’s fault but my own,” Happ said. “(I) haven’t been as consistent as I like and what I’ve been most of my career. I feel like I’m still capable of getting much better results and helping this ballclub.

“Hopefully (I) get a fresh start. Turn that page and start a new one.”

Happ is 4-0 with a 2.72 ERA in nine career outings against the Braves, including eight starts. He has enjoyed success against Abraham Almonte (0-for-8, four strikeouts), Dansby Swanson (0-for-4), Stephen Vogt (1-for-6) and Soler (2-for-13).

The Braves have not won back-to-back games since July 10, and they have yet to reach the high side of .500 this season. They are 9-9 since the All-Star break.

However, they have won four of five against the Cardinals this year, and the current series gives them a chance to finally gain traction.

St. Louis will start Drew Smyly (7-3, 4.40 ERA), who has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his past 10 starts. However, his longest start during that span was six innings, and he has failed to complete five innings in four of those games while battling left knee pain in recent starts.

Smyly is 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. He threw 5 2/3 scoreless against them during a 1-0 victory on June 20, and Paul Goldschmidt’s infield single was the only hit he allowed.

–Field Level Media

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