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STL@ATL: Harang allows two earned over six innings

Aaron Harang takes the hill Sunday hoping to help the Braves finally put a rough early May homestand behind them. Atlanta will try to sweep the Cubs and earn its fourth win in five games since enduring a seven-game losing streak.

"There's always some place in the middle of the season where you think that nobody's ever picked up a bat or a ball or any of that kind of stuff, or forgot how to manage," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said May 4 following one of those losses. "So, the glass that is half full is, 'We're too talented of a club.'"

The Braves opened their homestand with back-to-back series losses to the Giants and the Cardinals, the past two National League champions. This came after Atlanta dropped three straight against the Marlins in Miami.

Harang took the hill twice during the seven-game skid, giving up nine earned runs in Miami before rebounding by giving up just two earned in six innings against St. Louis on Monday.

"I never worried about him," Gonzalez said following Harang's last turn. "You don't worry about a veteran guy like that. He'll figure something out."

Edwin Jackson may need to figure something out given the way the Cubs have been swinging recently. Chicago has recorded four hits or fewer in four of its past six games, but the club has produced more for Jackson than its other starters.

The Cubs plate 4.7 runs per game in support of Jackson, but managed just one run in the right-hander's best start this season. Jackson earned a no-decision against the White Sox as he gave up one run on six hits and struck out nine in seven innings on Tuesday.

Jackson said Jeff Samardzija, who got a no-decision despite six scoreless innings Saturday, inspired his last outing after giving up one unearned run on three hits in nine innings against the White Sox on Monday.

"This is probably the best game I've thrown," Jackson said. "The game [Monday], Samardzija threw a [great] game. I can't lie and say that didn't give me some extra motivation to follow that up with a strong outing. You see a guy go out and bust his butt like that and throw a [heck] of a game, it gives you confidence the next day to come in and try to follow that up with another great game. That's what winning teams do -- you see pitchers feed off each other from outing to outing."

Cubs: Road trip off to rough start
• Chicago's 2-0 loss to Atlanta on Saturday night marked the club's third in the first four games of its nine-game road trip. The Cubs are 5-12 away from Wrigley Field this season.

They conclude their road trip with a four-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. St. Louis is just 7-5 at home after finishing with the second-best home record in the Majors last season at 54-27.

Heading into the series finale with the Braves on Sunday, the Cubs tangle with the club that had the best home record in baseball last year at 56-25.

Braves: Thomas recalled as Walden hits DL
• Atlanta placed right-handed reliever Jordan Walden (left hamstring strain) on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday (retroactive to Monday) and recalled left-hander Ian Thomas from Triple-A Gwinnett.

The injury has bothered Walden since Spring Training, but he began feeling discomfort in his outing against the Giants last week. He will rehab at the Braves' facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., this week, but his potential return date is unclear.

"I was praying," Walden said. "I went out there and gave it a shot a couple days. I threw a bullpen [session] and it just wasn't happening."

Worth noting
• The Braves and the Cubs dealt with rain delays Friday night (18 minutes) and Saturday night (one hour, seven minutes) Saturday night.

• The Cubs eclipsed the four-hit mark for just the second time in the past six games on Saturday, but didn't score a run despite the increased chances.

• Atlanta infielder Tyler Pastornicky's suicide squeeze Saturday night was his first RBI since July 31, 2012. It was the 14th RBI of his career. Comments