Philadelphia (39-34) at Atlanta (49-25)

Fair Currently: Atlanta, GA
Temp: 38° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jun 25, 2003
  • TV: ESPN2, FSS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Javy Lopez said he is not trying to hit home runs. They just happen to occur more frequently for him this season.

“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard,” said Lopez, whose 23 homers tie him with Florida’s Mike Lowell and Toronto’s Carlos Delgado for the major league lead. “Wherever it goes.”

Lopez will look to continue his power surge when the Atlanta Braves meet the Philadelphia Phillies in the middle game of their series at Turner Field.

On Tuesday, Lopez had his sixth two-home run game of the season, powering the Braves to a 5-3 victory. Atlanta has won three of four.

Lopez, the leading vote-getter among NL catchers in balloting for the All-Star game, has 19 homers in his last 31 games. In 2002, he batted .233 with only 11 homers.

Atlanta starter Russ Ortiz, who got the win on Tuesday, compared his teammate to San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds.

“Just seeing him not miss those pitches,” Ortiz said. “That’s the big thing with Barry. He doesn’t miss those pitches. Javy isn’t missing those pitches, either. It’s great to watch.”

Andruw Jones also homered for the Braves, who lead the majors with 119 home runs. Phillies starter Kevin Millwood, who spent the first six seasons of his career with the Braves, is impressed with his former team’s power surge this season.

“They’re definitely more dangerous than anytime I was here,” he said. “They have people throughout the lineup. They’re better now than I’ve ever seen them.”

The Phillies, who took two of three from the Braves in Philadelphia last week, had won three straight.

STANDINGS: Phillies - 3rd place, 9 1/2 GB, NL East. Braves - 1st place, NL East.

PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Vicente Padilla (5-7, 3.96 ERA). Padilla has turned in two consecutive quality starts, allowing just two earned runs in 14 1-3 innings. On Thursday, he gave up two runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings, but did not get a decision in the Phillies’ 3-2 win over the Braves. The 25-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.89 ERA in nine career games against the Braves.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Greg Maddux (6-6, 4.31 ERA). Maddux took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Friday, but ended up allowing three runs— two earned—and four hits over seven innings in a 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. The 37-year-old right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six outings. In 53 career games against Philadelphia, Maddux is 27-15 with a 3.19 ERA.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .321 avg.; Jim Thome, 17 HRs and 52 RBIs; Bobby Abreu, 47 runs; Jimmy Rollins, 9 SBs. Braves - Gary Sheffield, .341 avg., 62 RBIs and 63 runs; Lopez, 23 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 12 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Tied, 5-5.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Phillies - RF Abreu is batting .333 (17-for-51) in his career against RHP Maddux. … C Lieberthal has at least two hits in three of his last five games. … In his last 33 1-3 innings, LHP Rheal Cormier has allowed only three of 22 baserunners to score. Braves - The Braves are 19-2 when CF Jones hits a homer. … RF Gary Sheffield is batting .464 (13-for-28) with three homers in his career against RHP Padilla. … RHP Roberto Hernandez has fully recovered from a strained lower back and will be ready to come off the disabled list on Friday.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Phillies - 16-18 on the road; Braves - 27-10 at home.

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

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Starting Pitchers

V. Padilla Bos vs. G. Maddux LAD
14-12 Record 16-11
3.62 ERA 3.96
133 K 124
62 BB 33
1.24 WHIP 1.18