© 2006 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/08/06 1:20 AM ET

Braves open series with Astros

Atlanta (29-31) at Houston (29-31), 8:05 p.m. ET

After closing out their 10-game homestand with a dismal 2-8 record, the Braves head back on the road to begin a four-game series against the Astros on Thursday night.

"It's not a lack of hustle, it's not a lack of desire, it's just a lack of execution," John Smoltz said after Wednesday's loss. "That's what happens when you're in a streak like that."

Atlanta will look to erase those recent woes and find the same success it found in its last stretch on the road, when the Braves went 6-3 during a three-city tour. The Braves will face a Houston team that was mired in its own slump before picking up wins against Chicago in its last two games. Before those two wins, the Astros had lost 11 of their last 13 games.

John Thomson will be taking the mound for Atlanta in the series opener and looking to improve upon a recent string of disappointing outings. After beginning the season with a stellar 1.87 ERA through his first nine starts, Thomson has been rocked for 23 runs in his last four.

In his last start, which came against Arizona, Thomson couldn't make it through the fifth inning and surrendered a season-high eight runs. It was the second straight loss for the right-hander.

Opposing Thomson on the mound will be Andy Pettitte. But this season, Pettite has been nowhere near the dominant pitcher who posted a 17-9 record with a 2.39 ERA for Houston last year. He has struggled to find any type of consistency, and, like Thomson, Pettitte has also allowed five or more runs in three of his last four starts.

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP John Thomson (2-5, 4.65 ERA)
Thomson is 4-5 with a 6.25 ERA in nine career starts against Houston. Two of those starts have come at Minute Maid Park, where Thomson is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA.

HOU: LHP Andy Pettitte (4-7, 6.03 ERA)
Pettitte is 4-1 with a 3.46 ERA in seven career starts against Atlanta.

Player to watch
Chipper Jones is 6-for-16 with three doubles and three RBIs against Pettitte.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• AM 640 WGST, FM 96 rock

Up next
• Friday: Braves (Jorge Sosa, 1-7, 5.07) at Astros (Fernando Nieve, 1-3, 5.19), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Braves (Tim Hudson, 5-4, 3.93) at Astros (Taylor Buchholz, 3-5, 6.25), 4:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Braves (Horacio Ramirez, 2-1, 3.24) at Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 7-3, 4.36), 2:05 p.m. ET

Jenifer Langosch is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.