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Talking Behind Their Back: Braves

The Orioles picked up their first series victory in nearly three weeks by taking two of three from the visiting Atlanta Braves.

Before the series opener, Manager Dave Trembley pulled the entire team into a 15-minute meeting to essentially deliver a pep talk to a squad that had seen it's offense completely disappear while the team was mired in an awful 2-9 skid.

The team didn't seem to get much out of it as the Orioles dropped a 7-2 decision to the Braves in Game 1, allowing Atlanta rookie pitcher Tommy Hanson to pick up his first win. Considering the lack of offense, Jason Berken didn't have much breathing room and gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Saturday night's Game 2 seemed to be headed towards a similar fate as the Orioles threatened to bust the game open early but had to settle for taking a 2-0 lead. That lead became a 4-2 deficit as Rich Hill gave up four runs in the top of the fourth. Baltimore's fortune changed in the seventh inning as the team exploded for six runs against two Braves relievers.

The Orioles benefited from the type of problems that usually plague them as the team kept the inning alive with timely hits and by taking advantage of a wild pitch, an error and a couple of walks to ultimately come away with an 8-4 win. The victory marked the first time since a 7-2 win over Detroit on May 29 that Baltimore managed to score more than four runs.

On Sunday, the Orioles picked up where they left off, scoring at least two runs in each of the first four innings en route to an 11-2 pasting of the Braves in the series finale. Baltimore got the best of Atlanta ace Derek Lowe, tagging him for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. The beneficiary of all the run support was Brad Bergesen who turned in the first complete game of his career.

Bergesen threw 76 of his 112 pitches for strikes as he allowed two runs and five hits, with both runs coming via solo home runs by Braves catcher David Ross. Bergesen only had three strikeouts on the day but two of them came against the final two batters of the game, effectively putting an exclamation point on his stellar start.

Bergesen has picked up three of Baltimore's last five wins, which may mean he's now the new ace of the staff. During this stretch which spans four starts, Bergesen has a 1.69 ERA and has thrown 69 percent of his pitches for strikes while holding opponents to just a .193 batting average and, perhaps more importantly, has lasted at least eight innings in three of the starts (and seven innings in the other).

While Bergesen has been establishing himself as the team's top pitcher, the man already with that designation, Jeremy Guthrie, has struggled. Since picking up his last win on May 25 against Toronto, Guthrie has gone 0-2 (three starts), has given up five home runs, has an 8.53 ERA and opponents are hitting .339 against him. Guthrie doesn't appear to be injured as his velocity is still there while his control has been impeccable within the strike zone, having only issued one walk during this rough stretch but he has been elevating the ball, which explains his troubles.

Guthrie hopes to get back on track tonight, as he will be on the mound for the series opener against the visiting New York Mets. Guthrie will be pitching on an extra day's rest but historically, the fifth day in between starts hasn't lead to better results for him. Guthrie is 5-7 with a 4.85 ERA in 22 lifetime starts after an extra day off.

The Mets limp into Camden Yards having lost two of three against the New York Yankees and have actually lost four of their last five dating back to a series against the Philadelphia Phillies. In their last game, the Mets saw their ace Johan Santana get slapped around in a 15-0 loss in the Bronx.

The Mets' offense leads the National League in on-base percentage (.360) and ranks in the NL's top five in average, hits and triples yet is way down the list in home runs, having hit just 40 this season. New York's pitching staff, however, ranks 10th in the majors with a 4.15 ERA and has allowed just 54 home runs, good for eighth best in the majors.

In Game 1 tonight, the Orioles will face Mike Pelfrey who is 4-2 on the season but hasn't picked up a win since May 7, a span that includes six starts. Despite failing to get decisions in his favor, Pelfrey is pitching well enough to win; he has allowed just 17 earned runs (eight in one game) in those last six starts.

Tim Redding will take the ball Wednesday against Koji Uehara in a battle of scuffling starters. Redding hasn't won yet this season, going 0-2 in five starts with a robust 6.18 ERA. Uehara will be looking for his first win since April 13 - his second start of the season.

Thursday's series finale will feature Jason Berken going against the ageless Livan Hernandez, as the Orioles will face two ex-Nationals in back-to-back nights. Hernandez is 5-1 on the year with a 4.33 ERA and gets a lot of run support as the Mets average 6.13 runs when backing Hernandez.

By CJ Holley  |  June 16, 2009; 2:44 PM ET
Categories:  Braves , Mets , Orioles  | Tags: Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, baseball, brad bergesen, jeremy guthrie, mlb, new york mets  
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