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Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost has said his club's focus is the primary reason for its dramatic turnaround. Having Ben Sheets on the mound every fifth game hasn't hurt.
Sheets looks to win his fifth straight decision as the Brewers try to move a season-high eight games over .500 in the opener of a three-game road series against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night at Turner Field.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Milwaukee -116 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 55% of bets for this game have been placed on Milwaukee -116 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Milwaukee lost 12 of 16 games from May 2-18 to fall four games under .500 and into last place in the NL Central. Since then, however, the Brewers (41-34) have gone 21-10 to pull back into contention - a development Yost says is directly related to his club's refusal to get discouraged during its early struggles.
However, it's just as easy to give credit to Sheets (8-1, 2.74 ERA). The Brewers have won five of the last six games started by the right-hander, and are 10-4 overall with their ace on the mound.
Personally, Sheets is 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his last six starts after holding Toronto to two runs and four hits in six innings of a 5-4 win Wednesday. He's 8-3 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 career starts against the Braves, and has posted a 3.48 ERA during a five-start win streak against them.
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Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is 8-for-23 (.348) with two homers and three doubles lifetime against Sheets, but it's unclear if he'll be able to return to the field Monday. Jones, leading the majors with a .393 batting average, has missed consecutive starts with a strained right quadriceps.
Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira made up for Jones' absence Sunday, hitting three home runs as Atlanta (38-39) beat Seattle 8-3. The switch-hitter hit solo drives batting left-handed in the second and fourth innings, and a two-run shot from the right side in the seventh for his 13th homer of the season. It was his second career three-homer game and the first for an Atlanta player at Turner Field.
"I haven't been very consistent (this season)," said Teixeira, batting .378 in 10 June games at Turner Field, where the Braves are among the majors' best home teams with a 27-12 record this season. "For a game like that to help us win, it was very nice."
Milwaukee also got a multihomer game from its first baseman Sunday, when Prince Fielder went deep in the sixth and seventh innings of a 7-3 victory over Baltimore - the Brewers' sixth win in seven games.
Fielder is 15-for-37 (.405) with six homers, nine RBIs and 12 runs scored in his last 10 games.
"Hopefully, I can keep it up," he said. "When you feel comfortable, good things happen."
Fielder, though, is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts lifetime against Braves starter Jo-Jo Reyes (3-4, 4.05), who has delivered back-to-back quality starts. The left-hander held Texas to two runs - one earned - and five hits in seven innings of Atlanta's 5-2 win Wednesday.
Reyes is 0-1 with a 2.92 ERA in two career starts against the Brewers. He held them to one run and two hits while striking out nine in seven innings on May 28, but didn't get any help from his offense in a 1-0 loss.
The Braves lost the first two games of that three-game set in Milwaukee by one run apiece, but won the finale 8-1 behind four RBIs from Teixeira, a career .323 hitter (10-for-31) against the Brewers.
Milwaukee welcomed back second baseman Rickie Weeks for Sunday's game - his first appearance since being placed on the disabled list with a sprained left knee June 6. Weeks, batting .207 with 43 runs scored, went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in his return.
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