Braves counting on Francoeur to rebound

Braves counting on Francoeur

ATLANTA -- Before this season started, Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said that Jeff Francoeur would be a key to the team's success. While there's plenty of time for this to prove to be true, Francoeur is in the midst of a three-week slide that has kept him from contributing.

Targeted to serve a reliable run producer, Francoeur has gone 15 games without a multi-RBI performance. This coincides with the fact that he's hit just .206 (13-for-63) with three extra-base hits and six RBIs this month.

"I'm not worried," Francoeur said. "At this point of the season, you're just two or three good games away from getting your average where you want it to be."

During the second game of a four-game series at Turner Field on Tuesday night, Francoeur and the Braves will both attempt to right themselves.

Since opening this current 10-game homestand with a win, the Braves have lost two in a row and once again found home to be anything but sweet. They've lost 11 of the past 14 home games and won eight of their past 11 road games.

"We've played well here," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "It has nothing to do with pressing when we're at home and not on the road. We just haven't played well the past two games."

When the Braves won six of eight games on their past road trip, they credited a lineup that was energized by the returns of McCann and Garret Anderson. But that same lineup has scored just one run over the past 18 innings.

While McCann and Anderson's presence bolstered the lineup, their return also pushed Francoeur down into the seventh spot, where he's recorded just two hits in 25 at-bats. There's some thought that while hitting in front of rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer and the pitcher, the 25-year-old right fielder isn't seeing the same pitches that he did when he was batting closer to the middle of the order.

But there's also some reason to believe that Francoeur might be pressing to avoid a repeat of the 2008 season, when he produced career-low marks in batting average (.239), homers (11) and on-base percentage plus slugging (.653).

Through his first 18 games this year, Francoeur was hitting .292 with 12 RBIs. Over the course of the past 19 games, he's hit .203 and tallied seven RBIs.

"I think a lot of the guys are trying to do too much right now, instead of just allowing themselves to do what they know they're capable of doing," hitting coach Terry Pendleton said. "That happens when you're not scoring a lot of runs."

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (3-2, 2.06 ERA)
Jurrjens was pushed back a day after Sunday's rainout and will be pitching on six days of rest. Jurrjens' run of tough luck was extended on Tuesday, when he held the Mets scoreless until surrendering a two-run single with one out in the eighth inning. One inning later, the Mets tied the game, giving him a no-decision. Jurrjens has gone 1-2 with a 1.95 ERA during his past six starts. He was 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in three starts against the Rockies last year.

COL: RHP Jason Hammel (0-2, 4.62 ERA)
In his last outing on Thursday against the Astros, Hammel pitched solidly for the first time at Coors Field by giving up four runs -- one earned -- on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. However, he was the hard-luck loser. Hammel was able to locate his fastball and mix in some good sliders and curveballs. Hammel has never faced the Braves.

Tidbits
Tim Hudson has been feeling good during recent throwing sessions, and he's told manager Bobby Cox that he might be pitching in the big leagues again before the end of August. Hudson is currently rehabbing from the Tommy John elbow ligament transplant surgery that he underwent on Aug. 8, 2008. ... Braves right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano has recovered from the sore groin muscle that made him unavailable this past weekend. ... Jones needs two more hits at home to give him 1000 career hits at Turner Field.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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•  Official game notes

On television
• Peachtree Television

On radio
• 640 WGST, Project 9-6-1 , Viva 105.7 (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Braves (Javier Vazquez, 3-3, 3.71) vs. Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 0-3, 3.16), 7 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Braves (Kris Medlen, Major League debut) vs. Rockies (Aaron Cook, 2-1, 5.71), 7 p.m. ET
• Friday: Braves (Kenshin Kawakami 2-5, 5.73) vs. Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 8-1, 2.78), 7:30 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.