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Washington Nationals' Matt Adams is greeted in the dugout after hitting a solo home run off Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski during the second inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The Atlanta Braves return to SunTrust Park on Thursday for their first home series since the All-Star Break, beginning a six-game homestand with four against the Washington Nationals.

After Wednesday afternoon's 5-4 loss in Milwaukee, the Braves (58-39) held a six-game lead over Washington (50-43) in the NL East, pending the result of the Nationals' night game in Baltimore.

A familiar face is likely to return to the team this weekend as center fielder Ender Inciarte is expected to be activated from the injured list. 

Inciarte last played May 14, when he suffered a back injury against the St. Louis Cardinals. He was hitting .218 with two home runs and nine RBIs.

After the three-time Gold Glove Award-winner was injured, the Braves shifted Ronald Acuna Jr. to center and brought up Austin Riley to play left. 

Inciarte's return following 12 games with three Braves minor league teams could also serve to showcase him for potential trade possibilities, with the major league trade deadline set for July 31.

The Nationals entered Wednesday night's game having won 17 of 22, overtaking the Philadelphia Phillies for second place and holding a two-game lead for the first wild card spot in the National League.

Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and 20-year-old Juan Soto continue to lead the now Bryce Harper-less Washington offense. Hendrick was hitting .333 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs, Rendon was at .312 with 20 homers and 64 RBIs and Soto was hitting .303 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs.

All three have been hot over the last week, combining to go 15-for-34 with two homers, three doubles and eight RBIs.

After facing the Nationals, the Braves will conclude their homestand with a two-game interleague series against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.71 ERA) will start the series opener, trying to get the Braves back on the winning track.

Teheran is coming off back-to-back quality starts, combining to pitch 12 innings, allowing three runs and eight hits against the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres. The Braves won both games, though Teheran did not figure in the decisions.

Teheran will face Stephen Strasburg (11-4, 3.46). The Nationals' right-hander has won seven of his last eight starts, having not allowed a run in his last 13 1/3 innings.

Mike Soroka (10-1, 2.24) will get the ball in Game 2. His last time out, he pitched seven shutout innings and had a career-high nine strikeouts against San Diego.

Washington is expected to throw Patrick Corbin (7-5, 3.39).

With left-hander Max Fried being placed on the injured list with blister in his pitching hand, Atlanta has yet to announce a starter for Saturday's game against former Brave Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.71).

On Sunday, Bryse Wilson (1-1, 6.75) is expected to start, though the Braves could go in a different direction after the rookie struggled in Atlanta's 13-1 loss to the Braves. The Nationals have not yet announced their starter. 

PROMOTIONS

On Thursday, Christian rock singer Zach Williams will perform a free postgame concert inside SunTrust Park. Friday will feature the Braves' usual postgame fireworks display.

This week's Alumni Sunday will allow fans with a game ticket the opportunity to get autographs from Mark Wohlers, Marcus Giles and Paul Byrd at the Georgia Power Pavilion from 5-6 p.m. The first 5,000 children ages 14 and under to enter the stadium will receive a Braves backpack.

ON THE AIR

The four games -- all set to begin at 7 p.m. -- will be split between three networks. Thursday's game will be on Fox Sports Southeast, with Friday's and Saturday's games on Fox Sports South and Sunday's game nationally televised by ESPN.

The games can also be heard on 680 AM The Fan and Rock 100.5 FM.

John Bednarowski is the sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and the former president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He can be reached at sportseditor@mdjonline.com or on Twitter @jbednarowski

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