Atlanta (45-22) at Philadelphia (35-32)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 17, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Though the season is not halfway over, the Philadelphia Phillies may have to start now if they want to make a run at the Atlanta Braves for the NL East title.

These teams play the first of six games in 10 days on Thursday, with the Phillies hoping to take a big chunk out of the Braves’ sizable division lead.

This contest opens a three-game set at Veterans Stadium between these teams, who also meet for three games at Turner Field next week.

Philadelphia opens this series in third place in the NL East, 10 games behind Atlanta. Montreal is seven back.

The Phillies were ahead of or close to the Braves for the first month of the season, during which these division rivals split six meetings.

Atlanta has taken control by going 41-14 since a 4-8 start, including wins in eight of 11.

Philadelphia has dropped seven of 11 and is three games under .500 since its 16-10 start.

While the pitching for both teams has been fairly solid, the Braves have flourished thanks to a potent offense and the Phillies have struggled without one.

Atlanta leads the majors with 106 homers, and is second in the NL with 375 runs scored and a .283 team batting average. Philadelphia is 23rd in the majors with 61 homers and ranks 25th with a .248 average.

The Braves, however, had problems scoring in their weekend series against the owner of the AL’s best record—Seattle. They lost two of three to Mariners, totaling just five runs.

“It’s about winning, not looking good when you lose,” said Greg Maddux, who took the loss in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat. “We got beat two out of three and there is nothing encouraging about that.”

The Phillies’ offense woke up in its most recent game, compiling 14 hits— five for extra bases—in Saturday’s 12-2 win at Cincinnati. Philadelphia had scored just five runs in losing its previous three games.

Sunday’s game against the Reds was rained out.

If that did not halt the Phillies’ momentum offensively, Shane Reynolds might. The Braves’ starter Tuesday is 9-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 15 career starts against Philadelphia.

Reynolds’ best start of the season, and first win as a Brave, came against the Phillies on April 20 as he surrendered a run and two hits in 7 1-3 innings of an 8-1 victory.

While Reynolds should be happy facing the Phillies, his counterpart might just be pleased he’s not facing an AL team.

Brett Myers lost his last two starts to Anaheim and Oakland, getting ripped for 10 runs and 12 hits over 9 2-3 innings. The second-year right-hander was 5-4 with a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts against NL teams before those two defeats.

STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Phillies - 3rd place, 10 GB, NL East.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Reynolds (5-1, 5.14 ERA). The 11-year veteran is 4-0 in eight starts since suffering his only loss of the season to Milwaukee on April 25. He’s 3-0 with a 3.54 ERA in his last three outings on the road. At Oakland on Thursday, Reynolds gave up two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-2 win.

PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Myers (5-6, 3.54 ERA). Myers was tagged for five runs and eight hits—including two homers—over 5 2-3 innings in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss at Anaheim. He has yet to face the Braves this season after struggling in two starts against them last year, going 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .345 avg. and 56 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 19 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 60 runs and 11 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .320 avg.; Jim Thome, 15 HRs and 49 RBIs; Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins, 43 runs; Rollins, 7 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 3-3.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - Atlanta is 17-1 this season when RF Sheffield homers. … CF Andruw Jones has homered in two of his three at-bats against RHP Myers. … LF Chipper Jones is a career .350 hitter with 25 homers in 113 games against Philadelphia. Phillies - C Lieberthal is the only Phillies’ regular batting .280 or better. The Braves have seven. … CF Marlon Byrd, who was batting .193 through May, is hitting .484 (15-for-31) this month. … Against RHP Reynolds, C Lieberthal is 3-for-22 (.136) and 3B David Bell is hitless in 15 at-bats.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 21-13 on the road; Phillies - 19-15 at home.

INJURIES: Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Roberto Hernandez (abdomen), 15-day DL. Phillies - IF Tyler Houston (finger), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Reynolds Ari vs. B. Myers Cle
11-9 Record 14-9
5.43 ERA 4.43
94 K 143
59 BB 76
1.49 WHIP 1.46