The Indians knew their immediate schedule would be difficult. So far, the games it has demanded have not gone as planned.
After leaving Cleveland on Sunday, the Tribe rolled into Atlanta and dropped the first two tilts of a three-game set. The Indians will look to avoid a sweep on Thursday night, before playing three road games in Detroit and three home games against Baltimore.
A poor showing from Cleveland (71-61) during the current stretch -- which features nothing but playoff-caliber competition -- could be a fatal blow to the Tribe's playoff hopes.
Avoiding a sweep at Turner Field will be a step in the right direction. Tribe manager Terry Francona knows that won't be easy, considering the many challenges posed by Atlanta (80-52).
"They're good," Francona said. "They're not at full strength, but they're still really good. They've been good for a long time. They make good decisions. They draft well. They make good trades. They bring in guys that understand what's right and wrong. They've always done a good job of that. They're a good team."
In Thursday's series finale, the Indians will turn to right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (9-8, 3.95 ERA) in a matchup with Braves righty Kris Medlen (10-12, 3.74 ERA).
After the Indians leave town, the Braves don't play another series this season against a team that is currently over .500, meaning their 13-game lead in the National League East standings has a good chance to increase.
Cleveland wishes its playoff position was so well in hand. The Indians are 5 1/2 games behind Detroit in the American League Central and four games behind Oakland for the second Wild Card spot.
Indians: Raburn lands on disabled list
The Indians on Wednesday placed utility player Ryan Raburn on the 15-day disabled list -- retroactive to Aug. 19 -- because of a strained left Achilles tendon. To replace Raburn -- whose right calf has also been a source of discomfort -- Cleveland purchased the contract of outfielder Matt Carson from Triple-A Columbus.
Raburn participated in running drills and batting practice before Tuesday's game and said afterward that a visit to the disabled list was a possibility.
"We were trying not to [put Raburn on the DL]," Francona said. "I think we thought he'd be OK [Tuesday] night, but when he went through BP he was still kind of a little hesitant to let it go. I just felt like it's not fair to him."
Raburn has batted .272 with 15 home runs, 29 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs through 71 games this season. Carson -- who signed a Minor League contract with Cleveland over the winter -- hit .252 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 121 games at Triple-A.
Braves: Uggla returns to lineup
Infielder Dan Uggla returned to Atlanta's lineup on Wednesday night, batting sixth and playing second base.
Uggla, who had been on the disabled list since Aug. 13 and underwent LASIK vision surgery, went 1-for-3 with a walk, an infield single and two strikeouts during the Braves' victory. Atlanta optioned outfielder Todd Cunningham to Triple-A Gwinnett in order to make room for Uggla, who made two rehab appearances for the Minor League club earlier this week.
On Monday, Uggla went 0-for-3 with a couple strikeouts for the Gwinnett Braves. He started Tuesday's game with two more strikeouts before hitting a solo home run and notching a single.
"I was a lot more confident in the box, and just that alone is more than half the battle," Uggla said. "Actually being able to see the ball, and as I got more at-bats and was seeing more pitches, every pitch felt that much better."
• With Chris Johnson's walk-off single on Wednesday night, the Braves have won 21 games in their final at-bat. Arizona (29) is the only team in the Majors with more such victories.
• In dropping the first two games of this series, the Indians have gone 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position while leaving 17 men on base.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.