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Arizona Heat

Over the last two days, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been able to keep their winning streak alive in dramatic fashion.

They'll try for their eighth straight victory Saturday when they continue their three-game home series with John Smoltz and the Atlanta Braves.

Tony Clark led off the bottom of the 11th inning with a home run in Friday's 8-7 win, leaving the Diamondbacks one victory shy of matching their longest streak of the season. The previous night, Eric Byrnes - who also connected on Friday - hit a walk-off three-run shot in Arizona's 7-4 victory over Florida.

"It's good to come away with a win on nights like this," said Clark, who homered for the first time this season batting right-handed.

The Diamondbacks, who have five game-winning homers this season, have 12 total home runs during their winning streak, including seven in the last two games. They have scored 31 runs over their last four contests.

Arizona (57-48) has moved within one game of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The Diamondbacks were in first place in the division after games of June 27, but dropped 14 of their next 19.

Friday's victory was Arizona's fifth straight against the Braves, including a four-game sweep in Atlanta from June 1-4 last season. However, they'll be up against Atlanta ace John Smoltz (10-5, 2.78 ERA) on Saturday.

Smoltz is making his third start since a stint on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. The 40-year-old right-hander, who had not been on the DL since 2003, has gone seven innings in both of his starts since coming back.

He gave up two runs - one earned - in Monday's 4-2 win over San Francisco and held slugger Barry Bonds to two groundouts and a walk.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Atlanta -135 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 88% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta -135 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

"I'm really excited because I'm making progress," he told the Braves' official Web site. "I ran out of a little bit of gas in the seventh. But the bullpen came out and did a great job."

Smoltz is 2-2 with a 3.46 ERA in 12 career appearances, including five starts, against the Diamondbacks but has not beaten them since a 6-0 victory on June 18, 1999.

The Braves (54-40) have dropped three straight, but remain four games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets, who lost to Washington on Friday. Atlanta rallied from a 7-0 deficit in the series opener, but ended up with its eighth loss in 12 games.

"It's good that we came back but it would have been better to win the ballgame," said Atlanta first baseman Julio Franco, who went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Arizona starter Doug Davis (7-10, 4.13) is trying to win three straight decisions for the first time this season. He gave up three runs in 6 2-3 innings of Monday's 4-3 win over Florida, striking out a season-high eight batters.

Davis has gone at least six innings and allowed three or fewer runs in each of his last four starts.

He has not faced the Braves since 2005, while with Milwaukee, and has not received a decision in either of his two starts against them despite allowing just three runs over 12 total innings.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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