Braves open important week at home

Braves open important week at home

PHILADELPHIA -- One way or another, this will be a defining week for the Braves. Somewhere along the way they could lose Mark Teixeira or potentially add a power bat via trade.

But at the same time, they're looking to at least display some sort of consistency. Coming off two disappointing losses in Philadelphia, the Braves return to Turner Field on Monday to begin a four-game series against the Cardinals.

They'll be entering this series without Chipper Jones, whose strained left hamstring could force him to the disabled list, and Brian McCann, who suffered a mild concussion during a collision at the plate on Sunday.

The Braves have won just six of the previous 19 games that they've played without Jones in the lineup.

Like there's a good chance both Jones and McCann will be sidelined this week, there's at least a growing chance Teixeira will be traded before Thursday's Trade Deadline. The Braves are 7 1/2 games back in the National League East race and they haven't won three consecutive games since May 22.

"Whatever happens, happens," Teixeira said. "I've been through this before. It was a great opportunity for me to get a chance to come over here. But if they trade me, I'm sure I'll make the most of the next opportunity."

Because of a lengthy rain delay during Sunday's win over the Phillies, the Braves were forced to pitch Jo-Jo Reyes when play resumed. Thus instead of Reyes starting Monday's series opener against the Cardinals, Charlie Morton will likely get the call.

Braves manager Bobby Cox said he wouldn't announce his starter until Monday. Because Morton was optioned to Triple-A Richmond on Saturday, the only way he can return to the 25-man roster this soon would be as a replacement for somebody placed on the disabled list.

With McCann unavailable, the Braves will likely have to make at least two roster moves on Monday. Clint Sammons will likely be promoted from Richmond to join Corky Miller as the team's two available catchers.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Charlie Morton (2-3, 6.00 ERA)
Since impressing while making his first three career Major League starts in June, Morton has battled rookie inconsistencies. He is 1-2 with a 7.58 ERA in his past four starts. While facing the Marlins last week, a pair of walks hurt him when Mike Jacobs followed with a homer. The lanky 24-year-old right-hander has had trouble showing consistent command with his live fastball. This will be his first career appearance against the Cardinals.

STL: RHP Braden Looper (9-8, 4.49 ERA)
Though his line against the Brewers in his last start was quite good -- five innings pitched, seven hits, one earned run -- Looper had to exit early because of a high pitch count. He also picked up the loss because the Brewers' CC Sabathia shut out the Cards. However, Looper rebounded from a poor start on July 18 and pitched a solid game against one of the better lineups in the Majors. Looper is winless since June 24 -- a statistic he would love to change against Atlanta.

Tidbits
Tim Hudson, who is scheduled to start on Tuesday, played catch on Sunday and felt no alarming discomfort in his right elbow. Some tightness in his elbow forced him to exit last week's start against the Marlins. ... Tom Glavine threw a brief bullpen session on Sunday and he plans to throw a simulated game at Turner Field on Wednesday. ... Outfielder Matt Diaz, who has been out since straining the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on May 27, had a setback during his Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Richmond last week. While no structural damage was found in Diaz's knee, he may need to rest for at least another week. ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Saturday marked just the third time in franchise history that the Braves lost a game in which they had a nine-run inning. The previous occurrence was June 20, 1912.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• SPSO

On radio
• WGST 640, 94.9 FM

Up next
• Tuesday: Braves (Tim Hudson, 11-7, 3.17) vs. Cardinals (Todd Wellemeyer, 8-4, 4.19), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Braves (Jair Jurrjens, 10-5, 3.02) vs. Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 2008 debut), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Braves (Mike Hampton, 0-0, 13.50) vs. Cardinals (Joel Pineiro, 3-4, 4.79), 7:00 p.m. ET

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