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Notes: Teixeira making adjustments

Notes: Teixeira making adjustments

ATLANTA -- Mark Teixeira got off to a rousing start with the Braves, but now comes the adjustment period.

As National League pitchers start to learn more about Teixeira, he has begun to struggle slightly. One hit in 13 at-bats is nothing to panic over, but it's enough to make Teixeira realize that now he has to make the adjustment back.

"Three games is three games, and we've faced some good pitchers," Teixeira said. "The whole offense could probably score a few more runs and I could definitely help."

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Teixeira hit a home run in each of his first three games after being traded to Atlanta on July 31, as well as four homers in his first eight games. In the eight games since, he has just one home run and two extra-base hits, a stretch in which he has only five hits in 26 at-bats.

The switch-hitting cleanup hitter is still doing his part, though. Since coming to the Braves from the Rangers, Teixeira is hitting .246, but he has a .338 on-base percentage and a .557 slugging percentage. His presence in the lineup has improved its overall prowess, since he hits behind Chipper Jones and forces pitchers to offer Jones hittable pitches.

"That's one of my biggest jobs, is to protect [Jones] and try to get him pitches to hit," Teixeira said. "Then when he gets on base, if he doesn't drive a runner in, then hopefully I will. Our lineup does such a good job scoring runs that there's no reason to put any extra pressure on yourself."

Any slump that Teixeira endures can hardly be exploited by an opposing manager. Since Teixeira is a switch-hitter, teams can't match up pitchers in the late innings. His current stretch can hardly be called a slump, anyway -- since joining the Braves, he has reached base or driven in a run in all but one game.

With Interleague Play and players changing teams often, unfamiliarity hardly exists in baseball anymore. But Teixeira has found plenty of occasions in which he was new to a particular pitcher, and in that case, the pitcher usually has the advantage.

"When I was in the American League, I used my knowledge of the pitchers to my advantage," Teixeira said. "It's going to be a little bit of an adjustment period here, just from having not seen guys. But at the same time, if you get a pitch to hit, it's still baseball."

In a possible sign of breaking out, Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the first inning of Sunday's game.

The great outdoors: Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria took batting practice outside on Sunday for the first time since going on the disabled list with a sprained ankle on Aug. 3.

Renteria took about 40 swings while participating in two different hitting groups. He didn't hold back, looking like the typical game version of himself when he was spraying line drives across the outfield.

The biggest test for Renteria on Sunday, however, came while jogging. He has struggled with lateral movement, but ran in the outfield in a zig-zag pattern, which he also did on Friday.

"I did the same thing today and felt fine," Renteria said.

Renteria was eligible to return from the disabled list on Saturday and the Braves had targeted a return early this week, but he may be held out until Wednesday, Atlanta continues to look for improved flexibility when Renteria moves laterally in the infield.

Power pitchers: Injured Braves pitcher Mike Hampton jokingly scoffed at Arizona pitcher Micah Owings' two-homer game on Saturday, pointing out that he once had a similar game.

On June 5, 2001, Hampton hit two home runs at Coors Field as a member of the Rockies against his former team, the Houston Astros. Those were his only two hits of the game, though -- Owings also had a double, single and six RBIs.

"That was great," Hampton said. "That was really impressive."

Hampton was regarded as the best-hitting pitcher during his seasons of good health. He has 15 career home runs, including 10 in two seasons with the Rockies while playing in the ultimate hitter's park.

"I think [hitting] is something more pitchers should take seriously," Hampton said.

Sense of urgency: The Braves have had just one winning month since April and are 8-8 in August. They're 33-31 at home and have fallen behind the Mets by 5 1/2 games entering play on Sunday.

Atlanta is 2-3 on the current homestand and hasn't done better than 4-2 during a stretch of games at home since a 7-3 homestand in early May.

"We can't just keep trading wins and losses and periods of two weeks where we're 7-7 or 6-6," Jones said. "We need to start making a move, having homestands where we're going 5-1, 6-0, not 3-3 and 2-4 and 4-2."

Coming up: The Braves start a 10-game road trip with a four-game series at Cincinnati on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.02 ERA) starts on the mound for Atlanta against left-hander Phil Dumatrait (0-1, 10.32).

Jeff Lutz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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