Sheets is 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA in six second-half starts for Atlanta, including five straight quality starts to begin the new chapter of his career. That streak was snapped during his last outing, when he gave up five runs -- four earned -- in six innings against the Mets. Two of those runs came in the first inning.
"I've just got to find a way to come out of the gates better and give myself a chance to get some momentum," Sheets said after that start. "If you know anything about my career, you know me and first innings are not real good. I've just got to be better than that."
He'll look to begin a new string of quality outings and continue his comeback when he takes the mound Saturday night against the Dodgers as Turner Field hosts Major League Baseball's sixth Civil Rights Game.
Los Angeles will turn to righty Aarong Harang in this annual game that not only embraces the history of civil rights in the U.S. but also celebrates baseball's history of African-American players. Harang is 1-3 with a 4.53 ERA in 10 career starts against Atlanta. He earned a no-decision against the Braves on April 24 after giving up three runs in six innings.
This time around, Harang aims for a better outcome as the Dodgers try to create separation in a tight National League West race that took an unexpected turn when Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn't want to discuss the Cabrera situation, but he knows all too well the state of mind of a club after it loses a big guy like that in its lineup.
"Guys band together at first, then you see what happens," Mattingly said. "It's like a guy going on the disabled list. You can play for a period of time, but you can only replace Matt Kemp for so long. You can't say you'll be better without him. You may be for a while, but you can't say over the course of a season you'll be better without Matt Kemp.
"We survived for a period of time, then we fell apart right before the break."
Dodgers: Kemp, Mattingly awaiting discipline for ejections
Both Mattingly and Kemp are awaiting word from league offices regarding their ejections during the Dodgers' 10-6 loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Mattingly spoke with Major League official Joe Torre on Friday and the Los Angeles skipper said he expects to be suspended one or two games, and he is hopeful that Kemp will only be fined for his ejection.
It has been speculated that neither received disciplinary action Friday because both Mattingly and Kemp have prominent roles in Saturday's Civil Rights Game ceremonies.
"I still think [disciplinary action] is going to happen," Mattingly said. "I would say a game or two, it looks like. With Matt, I don't [expect a suspension], really, but I guess you never know."
Braves: Gearrin could return in September
Atlanta reinstated right-handed pitcher Tommy Hanson from the 15-day disabled list for Friday's start and optioned reliever Cory Gearrin to Triple-A Gwinnett. Gearrin pitched in 10 games during his second stint with the Braves, and he didn't allow a run while fanning nine in 8 2/3 innings.
His efforts since July 31 have impressed manager Fredi Gonzalez, and the righty may have earned a spot with the Braves when rosters expand in September.
"Gearrin's done a good job when he's been up here," Gonzalez said. "I think we'll see him again."
The Dodgers are 12-6 in 18 road games since the All-Star break.
Friday's win put the Braves a season-high 21 games above .500. They have won 18 of their last 23 games.