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Phillies-Braves Preview

Sep 18, 2009 - 5:26 AM By BRETT HUSTON STATS Writer

Philadelphia (84-60) at Atlanta (77-68), 7:35 p.m. EDT

Barring a total collapse over the season's final 17 games, the Philadelphia Phillies will win the NL East for the third consecutive season.

For now, though, they can't claim to be any hotter than the Atlanta Braves.

The Braves will look to win eight straight for the first time in more than six years Friday night against the visiting Phillies, who would love to extend their own five-game streak and widen the gap between themselves and Atlanta.

Philadelphia (85-60) has won eight of its last 10 after being swept in four games at Houston, a stretch that has reduced its magic number to 10 to clinch another division title.

Their hot streak has been critical considering the recent play of the Braves (78-68), who at the very least look like they'll make the NL wild-card race interesting. Atlanta beat the New York Mets 7-3 on Thursday for its seventh victory in a row, bringing it within 4 1/2 games of Colorado for the wild card and keeping it 7 1/2 behind Philadelphia in the East.

The Braves, who haven't won eight straight since July 4-11, 2003, have averaged 6.4 runs during their streak and are 10 games above .500 for the first time since May 16, 2007.

"This is the best we've played since I've been here," said catcher Brian McCann, who hit a three-run homer and is batting .500 with nine RBIs since Sept. 10. "It feels great because we could have folded. ... There's nothing to lose. At the end (of the regular season), we hope it will be enough. We'll see."

Atlanta's offensive hot streak figures to be put to the test against a Philadelphia rotation that's looking as good as any in the majors. Cole Hamels was the latest Phillies starter to dominate, allowing a run over eight innings while striking out 10 Thursday in a 4-2 win over Washington.

That run was the only one Philadelphia's rotation has allowed in 31 innings over the past four games.

"This is the best starting pitching we've had since I've been here," manager Charlie Manuel said.

The Phillies will have their top starter in terms of ERA on the hill Friday as they look to keep rolling, but they can't be entirely sure what to expect from J.A. Happ (10-4, 2.77 ERA). The rookie hasn't pitched since Sept. 2 because of a strained ribcage muscle, but threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday and was pronounced good to go.

Happ, considered among the front-runners for NL rookie of the year honors, was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his last two starts before the injury. He's 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in two starts against the Braves - both at Turner Field - and that success shouldn't come as a surprise. His 1.88 ERA on the road is the best in all of baseball.

Matt Diaz, who leads the Braves with a .320 average, is 4 for 6 with a homer against Happ.

Tim Hudson (1-0, 3.63) will oppose Happ as he hopes to bounce back from the least effective of his three starts since he made his long-awaited return from right elbow surgery.

Hudson had a 2.19 ERA in his first two outings, but gave up four runs and 10 hits in five innings Saturday at St. Louis, leaving without a decision in Atlanta's 7-6 win.

Hudson is 4-5 with a 3.79 ERA in 14 starts against Philadelphia since joining the Braves in 2005. Ryan Howard is hitting .323 with three homers against Hudson while Shane Victorino is batting .320 with two home runs.

Victorino left the Phillies' win Thursday with a gastrointestinal illness, leaving his status for Friday uncertain. It seems Victorino has a better chance to play than Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who aggravated his left groin injury during a pinch-hit appearance Wednesday.

Jones, batting .133 since Aug. 16, hasn't started since Saturday.






  • 15
    roots
    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Phillies 9, Braves 4  FinalSep 19 3:17 AM
  • 10
    roots
    #1 Cards Fan Added 10 roots

    Phillies 9, Braves 4  FinalSep 19 1:35 AM


  • Braves 4, Phillies 9 - FINAL
    PHILADELPHIA ab r h rbi bb so lob avg
    J Rollins ss 4 2 1 3 1 0 1 .247
    B Francisco cf 5 2 3 1 0 0 1 .273
    C Utley 2b 5 1 1 0 0 1 1 .295
    R Howard 1b 4 2 2 3 0 1 0 .271
    J Werth rf 4 0 3 2 0 0 0 .276
    R Ibanez lf 4 0 0 0 0 1 3 .277
    P Feliz

    Sep 18 10:33 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ADAM LAROCHE SCORED GARRET ANDERSON
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A LAROCHE ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 9
    ATLANTA 4 BOTTOM,9TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: V NUNEZ (-, 0 HR, 0 RBI)

    Phillies 9, Braves 4  Bot 9, 0 OutsSep 18 10:31 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY BEN FRANCISCO (5) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN THE
    9TH OFF VLADIMIR NUNEZ.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 9, ATLANTA 3
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: C UTLEY (.295, 1-FOR-4)

    Phillies 9, Braves 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 18 10:18 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY JIMMY ROLLINS (19) TO RIGHT CENTER
    WITH 1 OUT IN THE 9TH OFF VLADIMIR NUNEZ SCORED ERIC BRUNTLETT
    AND PAUL BAKO.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 8, ATLANTA 3
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: B FRANCISCO (.262, 2-FOR-4)

    Phillies 8, Braves 3  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 18 10:17 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY BRIAN MCCANN (20) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 8TH OFF TYLER WALKER SCORED MARTIN PRADO.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 5, ATLANTA 3
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: O INFANTE (.301, 0-FOR-2)

    Phillies 5, Braves 3  Bot 8, 0 OutsSep 18 10:02 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JAYSON WERTH SCORED CHASE UTLEY AND JIMMY ROLLINS
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J WERTH ON FIRST, R HOWARD ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 5
    ATLANTA 1 TOP,8TH
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: R IBANEZ (.278, 0-FOR-3)

    Phillies 5, Braves 1  Top 8, 0 OutsSep 18 9:48 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY RYAN HOWARD (40) TO RIGHT CENTER WITH 2 OUT
    IN THE 6TH OFF TIM HUDSON.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 3, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: J WERTH (.273, 1-FOR-2)

    Phillies 3, Braves 1  Top 6, 0 OutsSep 18 9:04 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY RYAN HOWARD (39) TO RIGHT CENTER WITH 2
    OUT IN THE 4TH OFF TIM HUDSON SCORED BEN FRANCISCO.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 2, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: J WERTH (.272, 0-FOR-1)

    Phillies 2, Braves 1  Top 4, 0 OutsSep 18 8:28 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MARTIN PRADO (10) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 1 OUT
    IN THE 3RD OFF J.A. HAPP.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 0, ATLANTA 1
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: C JONES (.270, 1-FOR-1)

    Phillies 0, Braves 1  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 18 8:18 PM