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This week: Pivotal series looms for Braves
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The Atlanta Braves have a golden opportunity to gain ground on the first-place Washington Nationals this week in the nation’s capital. Currently in second place, three games behind the Nationals, the Braves open the week with a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday at Tuner Field. Atlanta has the day off today.

Atlanta’s series against Washington is now four games. On Saturday, the teams will play a doubleheader as the result of a rainout during their last series on June 1.

The Braves have won seven consecutive games, including series sweeps of NL East rivals the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets.

For Atlanta, right-hander Jair Jurrjens (3-2, 4.97 ERA) will throw the first game of the series against the Giants against San Francisco’s Barry Zito (7-6, 4.01).

Jurrjens has won two of his last three starts, but has struggled with a 2-3 record in his last 10 appearances against San Francisco. After a two-month stint in Triple-A this season, Jurrjens has posted a 3-0 record. And his control has been just as solid, walking only five hitters in 25 1/3 innings.

In Game 2 of the series, Mike Minor will take the mound for Atlanta. In his last outing, the left-handed Minor allowed three hits and three runs over 6À innings against the Chicago Cubs.

GWINNETT BRAVES: The two teams struggling the most in the International League will play four games this week. The Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, currently third in the division and nine games out of first, will face the Durham Bulls, last in the division and one game behind Gwinnett, starting Tuesday. Gwinnett won two of three games last week when it played Durham, part of a three-game winning streak.

Even though the G-Braves have struggled this summer, including a 15-game losing streak last month, they have started to turn things around. Gwinnett started July with a five-game winning streak against the Charlotte Knights.

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