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Chipper looks to lock in against knuckler

Chipper looks to lock in against knuckler

BOSTON -- Whenever Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton faced right-handed knuckleballers in his career, he opted to hit from the right side of the plate. As for fellow switch-hitter Chipper Jones, he limited this experiment to just one at-bat against Tim Wakefield during the 2002 season.

"I went up there and he threw me two sliders and I flew out to center," Jones said. "So I figured it didn't make any sense for me to do it again."

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When the Braves conclude their three-game series against the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon, Jones will once again find himself batting from the left side of the plate against Wakefield. But more importantly, he and the rest of his teammates will be attempting to provide Jair Jurrjens the offensive support that he's lacked throughout this season.

While growing up in Curacao, Jurrjens was among the many fans who regularly followed the Braves on TBS.

Some of those same fans who came to view the Braves as nightly entertainment will have the opportunity to see this series finale featured as TBS' Game of the Week. Chip Caray and Ron Darling will serve as the broadcasters.

Currently saddled with the first three-game losing streak of his young career, Jurrjens has seen the Braves score just one run during the 15 innings that he's totaled during his past three starts. His misfortunes were increased on Tuesday when he got the loss after allowing one run in a two-inning performance that was cut short because of a rain delay that lasted nearly two hours.

Two of the five losses Jurrjens has suffered this year came during games in which he allowed one run and was forced to exit after two innings because of a lengthy rain delay.

"He's run into a lot of tough luck, Jones said. "We're trying for him and battling. It's just not happening for us."

While combining for 15 runs during the wins they recorded on Wednesday and Thursday, the Braves ended their most recent offensive slumber. The hard-throwing approach of Josh Beckett slowed them on Saturday night and now they will have to adjust to Wakefield's dancing knuckler.

Making his first start against the Braves since 2005, Wakefield will be opposing a number of hitters getting their first look at his knuckleball. Garret Anderson has .273 (18-for-66) with five homers in his career against the veteran hurler and Casey Kotchman has five hits in 14 career at-bats.

Jones is the only other current Braves player who has ever faced Wakefield. He's found some success with four hits in nine career at-bats against the knuckleballer. "You've just got to make sure you keep yourself back because that ball could be dancing up, down and sideways," Jones said.

Showing his multi-dimensional talents, Pendleton plans to throw some knuckleballs during Sunday morning's batting practice.

"It's just a matter of see ball, hit ball," Pendleton said. "That's the only way you can approach it."

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (5-5, 2.89 ERA)
With a lengthy rain delay limiting him to two innings against the Reds on Tuesday, Jurrjens should be well-rested as he attempts to end his three-game losing streak. While going 0-3 with a 4.20 ERA in his past three starts, the 23-year-old right-hander has continued to be saddled with limited run support.The Braves have totaled 37 runs while he's still been on the mound during his 14 starts this year. Jurrjens has gone 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA during his four previous starts in day games this season.

BOS: RHP Tim Wakefield (9-3, 4.39 ERA)
Wakefield continues to shine amidst the controversy surrounding the crowded Boston rotation. The 42-year-old knuckleballer picked up his ninth win of the season last Tuesday at Fenway Park, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings against the Marlins. A 13-game winner in Interleague Play, Wakefield is 3-4 lifetime against Atlanta with a 5.06 ERA in 13 appearances.

Tidbits
The Royals are scouting Jeff Francoeur during this weekend's series. ... Kenshin Kawakami and three Braves relievers limited the Red Sox to two hits on Friday night. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the previous time the Braves had tossed a two-hitter in Boston was June 15, 1952, when they were still the Boston Braves. ... The Braves extended their sympathies to the family of George Atkinson, who passed away Friday at the age of 79. Atkinson co-founded and headed the Boston Braves Historical Association.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

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

On television
• FSS, TBS

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

Up next
• Monday: Braves (Javier Vazquez, 4-6, 3.41) vs. Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 4-4, 3.92), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Braves (Tommy Hanson, 2-0, 4.08) vs. Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 0-5, 12.30), 7:00 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Braves (Kenshin Kawakami, 4-6, 4.42) vs. Yankees (TBD), 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.

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