Smoltz meets Prior in marquee matchup

Marquee matchup on tap as Smoltz meets Prior

When Mark Prior and John Smoltz lock horns at Turner Field on Wednesday night, it will be a matchup of young versus old. But with the dominant success Smoltz has enjoyed over the past month, it's rather difficult to remember he's actually 38 years old.

Smoltz enters the contest having won each of his past five starts, and having posted a 1.12 ERA in his past four. Braves manager Bobby Cox would like to allow the right-hander an opportunity to pitch in next week's All-Star Game. Thus, he won't be bringing him back on short rest to pitch on the final day before the break.

While Smoltz will likely be making his final pre-All-Star Game appearance, Prior will be making his third start since coming off the disabled list. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed three earned runs in five innings against the Nationals on Friday. This will be his first appearance against the Braves since he allowed one run and went the distance against them in Game 3 of the 2003 Division Series.

With wins in the first two games of this series, Atlanta has kept itself within 4 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals. As for the Cubs, they've lost six straight games.

Pitching matchup:
CHC: RHP Mark Prior
• 5-2, 2.86 ERA in 2005
• Did not face ATL in 2004 or 2005

ATL: RHP John Smoltz
• 9-5, 2.68 ERA in 2005
• 0-0, 3.86 ERA vs. CHC in 2004

Player to watch
Cubs shortstop Neifi Perez has batted .421 (8-for-19) in his career against Smoltz.

"He tightened up his belt in that situation. That shows a lot about him. He's not going to give in." -- Marcus Giles, on Roman Colon's seventh-inning, bases-loaded escape on Tuesday

On the Internet
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television

On radio
• CHC: WGN 720

Quick hits
The Braves have won seven of their past eight home games. ... Rafael Furcal has hit safely in eight of the past 10 games. ... Derrek Lee was forced to leave Tuesday's game with an irritated shoulder.

On deck
• Thursday: vs. Chicago, 7:35 p.m. ET
• Friday: vs. Milwaukee, 7:35 p.m. ET
• Saturday: vs. Milwaukee, 7:05 p.m. ET

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.