Mike Hampton did not think his strained groin would allow him to make his most recent start. Not only did he take the mound, he pitched one of his best games of the season.
Hampton, who was limited to 1 2-3 innings against the Texas Rangers on June 5, showed no signs of the injury Saturday. He worked seven innings, giving up one run and two hits in a 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.
“He pitched really good,” Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said. “He threw a lot of strikes and groundballs, and he had a lot of sinking action on the ball. He had a long layoff with those leg problems, but he threw strikes.”
Cox will look for a similar effort from Hampton in Thursday’s series finale.
After dropping Tuesday’s opener 5-4, the Braves won 6-1 on Wednesday. Russ Ortiz pitched six shutout innings and Robert Fick had three RBIs to power Atlanta to just its second win in its last five games.
Phillies ace Kevin Millwood, who spent six seasons with the Braves, lost his first start against his former team. He gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings.
Philadelphia had won two straight.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Phillies - 3rd place, 10 GB, NL East.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Hampton (3-3, 3.73 ERA). In 20 career games against Philadelphia, Hampton is 6-6 with a 3.69 ERA.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Vicente Padilla (5-7, 4.09 ERA). Because his scheduled start against Cincinnati on Sunday was rained out after one inning, Padilla will be making his first start in 10 days. He was impressive on June 9, limiting the Anaheim Angels to five hits over seven innings in a 3-0 win. Padilla is 4-2 with a 1.79 ERA in eight career games against the Braves, including wins in both of his starts against them this season.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .346 avg. and 59 RBIs; Sheffield and Lopez, 19 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 62 runs and 12 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .327 avg.; Jim Thome, 15 HRs and 49 RBIs; Jimmy Rollins, 44 runs and 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 4-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - RF Sheffield is batting .440 (11-for-25) with a double and a home run in his career against RHP Padilla. … 1B Fick went 2-for-4 on Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He’s batting .378 (14-for-37) during the streak. … Cox has been ejected from six games at Veterans Stadium in the past three years, including twice this season. Phillies - 2B Placido Polanco is batting .484 (15-for-31) in his career against LHP Hampton. … LF Pat Burrell is 4-for-9 in the series’ first two games, raising his average from .198 to .208. … LHP Turk Wendell has not allowed a run in his last nine innings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 22-14 on the road; Phillies - 20-16 at home.