Although the Braves suffered a late defeat against the Pirates on Wednesday night, the club has turned the corner. After going through a stretch in which it only won three of its previous 12, Atlanta has claimed five of its past six contests.
"We still have to look at it as a positive," said David Carpenter, who took Wednesday's loss in Pittsburgh. "We took five straight and took the series. That's what it's all about. If we can win the series, we have a really good shot at this."
And with ace Julio Teheran on the mound against a floundering Reds club that has dropped five straight games, the Braves have to feel good. They just need Teheran to improve his performance away from Turner Field.
In 13 starts away from home, Teheran is 6-7 with a 4.27 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .265. In 13 turns in Atlanta, those marks improve to 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA and opposing hitters batting only .203 against him.
He limited Oakland to only two earned runs on four hits in six frames on Aug. 16 during his most recent outing, halting a three-start losing streak during which he compiled a 5.48 ERA as batters facing him posted a .333 on-base percentage.
"I was just trying to get focused," Teheran said. "I wanted to really win this game because I had lost my last three and that's something I don't want to get used to. I was just trying to go out there and win and do my best to help my team."
If Teheran helps his team like he did when he gave up only three hits in eight scoreless innings against the Reds on April 27, Cincinnati hurler David Holmberg has a difficult task ahead of him.
The Reds already need the left-hander to do his best to save a tired bullpen that has posted a record of 0-7 and a 6.10 ERA in August.
Holmberg has pitched only 6 1/3 innings in the Major Leagues, giving up three homers, walking six and compiling an 11.37 ERA. In a spot start for the Reds on July 8, the Cubs accounted for all three of those home runs as they tagged the lefty for five earned runs on seven hits and three walks in only 2 2/3 frames.
"He was behind a lot and in some bad counts and the Cubs took advantage of it. He made some location mistakes," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Young guys trying to establish themselves sometimes tend to get out of character. I certainly don't think we saw the best he has to offer, by any means, in that one start."
Entering Thursday's game, the Braves are 1 1/2 games behind the Giants for the second Wild Card spot and the Reds are trailing San Francisco by 6 1/2 games. With just over a month to go, neither team is out of the playoff picture.
Braves: Upton keeps on rolling
• Justin Upton continued his red-hot August by extending his hit streak to 11 games by finishing 1-for-3 with a run-scoring single on Wednesday. The left fielder is batting .378 (14-for-37) with four homers and 15 RBIs during the run.
Upton has raised his batting average from .271 entering July 4 to .287 thanks to a stretch that has seen him hit .320 (48-for-150) with eight homers, 14 doubles, 35 RBIs, 22 walks and 37 strikeouts.
Reds: One-run conundrum
• Cincinnati has gone 18-31 in one-run games this season, leading the Majors in such defeats. The Reds' 49 one-run contests rank second behind only the Marlins, who have gone 32-19 in a Major League-leading 51 one-run games.
The Braves, meanwhile, are 21-20 in one-run games as their four-game winning streak in such contests was snapped on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Reds have lost nine of their past 11 one-run contests.
• Recently signed Braves Minor Leaguer Donnie Murphy hit a grand slam for Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday night.
• Johnny Cueto gave up more than two earned runs for only the fifth time in 27 starts this season on Wednesday night.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.