At various times this season, the Braves, who host the Cubs in the first of three games beginning Tuesday night, have faced starting pitchers Ben Sheets, Jake Peavy, C.C. Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Edinson Volquez, Brandon Webb, Carlos Zambrano, and Johan Santana (multiple times). But in the judgment of manager Bobby Cox, the guy they'll go up against Tuesday surpasses them all.

"[Rich Harden] is the best pitcher we've seen this year," Cox said. "He's very impressive."
Harden pitched against Cox's Braves on May 17th, when he was still with Oakland. In that game, in which he dueled former teammate Tim Hudson, Harden allowed 1 run and 4 hits over 7 innings. He fanned 8 and walked 1. The A's wound up winning 5-4 after the Athletics bullpen allowed Atlanta a 3-run ninth inning.

Tuesday night, Harden will be opposed by Charlie Morton, who is just 3-5, 5.70, but has pitched well the last two times out, against the Diamondbacks and Brewers.


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