ATLANTA — Even as a rookie, Jair Jurrjens often was asked to serve as the stopper for the Atlanta Braves.
After a surprising sweep by the Florida Marlins at Turner Field, Jurrjens is back in that role as the Braves try to snap their three-game losing streak when they open a series at Pittsburgh tonight.
The Marlins outscored the Braves 21-7 in the three-game sweep, which ended with a 6-2 win on Thursday.
Jurrjens said he’ll be looking to stay in the game as long as possible today, when he’ll face Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm.
“The last couple of days we’ve been overworking the bullpen,” Jurrjens said Thursday. “We need to eat innings.”
Jurrjens (2-0) was Atlanta’s most effective starter last season, when he was 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA and finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He led Atlanta in wins, starts (31), innings (188 1-3) and strikeouts (139).
Atlanta pitchers have struggled with walks. Even while winning his first two starts, Jurrjens has issued eight walks in 11 innings.
“It’s driving me crazy already,” Jurrjens said.
Escobar leaves with injury
Shortstop Yunel Escobar left the game after five innings with a strained abdominal muscle.
He is listed as day to day.
Escobar said he hurt himself jumping up and down in the on-deck circle before his fifth-inning at-bat. Escobar usually jumps high to warm up before hitting.
He hit a groundout and then left the game.
Escobar said he thinks he can play on Friday, but manager Bobby Cox said he expected the shortstop to miss three or four games.
Omar Infante moved from third base to shortstop to replace Escobar. Martin Prado entered the game as the new third baseman.
Escobar was 1-for-3 and his hitting .343.
Chipper Jones was encouraged but cautious as he missed his second straight game with a bruised left thumb.
There was less swelling and discoloration around the thumb on Thursday. Jones said he probably will miss Friday’s series opener at Pittsburgh but is targeting Saturday for a possible return.
“That would be a good start,” he said. “That could be reasonable. Don’t hold me to it.”
Ross makes debut
David Ross was 1-for-3 with a walk in his first start.
Ross came off the 15-day disabled list Thursday and immediately gave Brian McCann a needed break. McCann started each of the first eight games of the season.
Ross opened the season on the disabled list with a strained right groin.
The team optioned catcher Clint Sammons to Triple-A Gwinnett. Sammons has not appeared in a game this season.