MLB: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker removes starting pitcher Touki Toussaint from a game against the Washington Nationals during the fourth inning at Truist Park.

Atlanta’s Touki Toussaint will try to recover from back-to-back lackluster performances on Tuesday when he takes the mound to open a three-game series against the visiting Colorado Rockies.

The right-handed Toussaint (3-2, 4.11 ERA) gets another shot after failing to pitch past the third inning in his last two starts. He will face Colorado’s Jon Gray (7-10, 4.18) in a rematch of the two clubs that met a week ago in Denver. The teams split those four games.

The Braves (76-66) are 4-2 on their current homestand and lead the National League East by 4 1/2 games over Philadelphia. The Rockies (66-78) won a four-game series (3-1) in Philadelphia to begin their 10-game road trip.

In Toussaint’s last two starts, he’s allowed seven runs, five earned, in six combined innings. It’s not the effort the team was looking for when they opted to use Toussaint instead of veteran Drew Smyly as the No. 5 starter.

In his most recent appearance on Sept. 8 against Washington, Toussaint was yanked after failing to retire the first three batters he faced in the fourth inning. Good bullpen work limited the damage to two runs, but he walked four and struck out three. Of the 62 pitches he made, only 29 went for strikes.

“It wasn’t good,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “His stuff is great, really spins the ball, but when you’re having big misses and you can’t get the ball over, it’s tough sledding.

The same pattern held true when Toussaint faced the Rockies on Sept. 2, his first career start against Colorado. He allowed five runs (four earned) in three innings.

Gray will be making his 26th start, his 13th on the road and his first of the season against the Braves. He made his return from a stint on the 10-day injured list with right forearm tightness against San Francisco last Wednesday and allowed three runs and fanned eight. He also walked only one batter, a statistic he viewed as important.

“It makes me feel good, because I know I’ve walked way too many guys this year,” Gray said. “That’s one thing I really want to focus on these last couple starts is to try not to walk anybody.”

Gray has made six career starts against the Braves, going 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA.

The Atlanta trip always serves as a homecoming for outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who played at Georgia Tech. Blackmon, who ranks No. 2 in franchise history with 1,434 hits, has fared well against the Braves. In 54 career games against Atlanta, Blackmon is batting .285 (55-for-193) with 11 doubles, seven homers and 31 RBI.

Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman hit his 30th home run on Sunday to become the fourth infielder in franchise history and the ninth overall to have at least three 30-homer seasons. Freeman has 67 hits since the All-Star Game.

The Braves had to make a roster move when catcher Stephen Vogt injured his hip. They recalled William Contreras from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was batting .290. He is hitting .196 in major league games this season. Contreras will serve as backup to Travis d’Arnaud.

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