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CLE@ATL: Wood fans five, holds Tribe scoreless

The Braves have a comfortable lead at the top of the National League East, so it isn't as if Alex Wood's last outing delivered much of a blow to Atlanta's road to the postseason. But the young left-hander had been pitching so dominantly, a rough performance against the Marlins certainly stood out.

Wood and the Braves had six days to digest that loss. Now Wood will have his first chance to bounce back when Atlanta plays the Phillies on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. Kyle Kendrick will be on the mound for Philadelphia.

In Wood's last start Sunday, he allowed seven earned runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss to the Marlins.

"It's been a while since I got beat that bad," Wood said after that start. "I actually can't remember the last time I had a day like today. It's hard to say it's going to happen once in a blue moon, because I feel like I'm going to go out and throw a shutout every time."

It was undeniably a surprise given the way Wood had been pitching. In his six previous outings, Wood was 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA. Opponents were hitting only .203 against him over that span.

So his struggles against Miami were certainly alarming, but Wood said afterward he still feels confident in his stuff. Wood figures to be a key part of the Braves' rotation in the postseason, so it'll be critical for Atlanta that the 22-year-old returns to his dominant ways.

Meanwhile, Kendrick is coming off his own rough outing, where he gave up five runs on eight hits over six innings against the Cubs. In 16 starts going back to June 8, the right-hander is 4-9 with a 5.74 ERA.

"The last two or three outings, it's been something a little bit different," Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said after Kendrick's last start. "But today, [Kendrick] just didn't have his two-seam fastball that he can throw to the front side of a left-handed hitter and he can throw to right-handed hitters and get ground balls."

Kendrick also struggled in his last start against the Braves on July 6, when he allowed six runs on 12 hits over five innings. In his career, though, he's 7-2 with a 3.20 ERA against Atlanta.

The Braves are in a stretch of 13 consecutive games against National League East opponents as they draw closer to clinching the division.

Braves: Heyward making progress
• Atlanta had some welcome news Friday when it learned Jason Heyward's recovery from his broken jaw is progressing smoothly and a return to game action could be in the near future.

The right fielder was hit in the jaw with a 90-mph fastball from Mets starter Jon Niese on Aug. 21. Heyward's been hitting off a tee, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said the outfielder will need to see time in a game before he rejoins Atlanta's lineup.

"I don't have any expectations," Gonzalez said. "The report was he looked good. There is a chance he'll rejoin us on Monday or Tuesday in Miami. ... I don't know how much hitting we want him to do [without supervision]. Off the tee is fine, maybe some cardio, but I really don't know."

Before going on the DL, Heyward was hitting .253 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs.

Phillies: Asche on a roll
• Cody Asche started his Major League career with some early struggles at the plate. But since going 1-for-17 to begin his time with the Phillies, the 23-year-old has heated up to become a key part of the club's offense.

The third baseman hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning of Philadelphia's 2-1 win over Atlanta on Friday night, which was his second homer in his last three games.

Asche went 2-for-3 for his third straight multi-hit game. Since that 1-for-17 stretch, Asche is hitting .333 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.

Worth noting
• After his third-inning home run Friday night, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is 5-for-15 (.333) in his last five games, with two home runs and six RBIs. Comments