They’ll try to continue closing that gap when they open a three-game series against the Florida Marlins at Veterans Stadium.
Philadelphia has won 13 of 16, including eight of its last nine. After trailing the Braves by 10 1/2 games in mid-June, the Phillies are now just 4 1/2 back.
They welcome the Marlins to the Vet after taking three of four from the Chicago Cubs, including a 12-2 rout on Thursday.
“We played an outstanding series against a team with great pitching,” said Phillies manager Larry Bowa, whose team has won five straight series.
The Marlins helped the Phillies this week, taking two of three from Atlanta.
“We followed our script, winning two out of three,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “Can’t complain about that. Can’t be a hog.”
STANDINGS: Marlins - 4th place, 10 1/2 GB, NL East. Phillies - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, NL East.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.73 ERA). Pavano had the worst start of his career last Friday, allowing six runs and six hits without recording an out in a 25-8 loss to Boston. He had allowed two earned runs or fewer in three of his previous four starts. The 27-year-old right-hander is 3-6 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 career games against the Phillies.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Kevin Millwood (9-6, 4.03 ERA). Millwood pitched well on Sunday, breaking the first three-start losing streak of his career. Through 7 2-3 innings of a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, he gave up three runs and eight hits. In 19 career games against the Marlins, Millwood is 5-7 with a 5.59 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Marlins - Luis Castillo, .321 avg.; Mike Lowell, 26 HRs, 72 RBIs and 59 runs; Juan Pierre, 38 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .322 avg.; Thome, 21 HRs, 60 RBIs and 55 runs; Polanco, Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Marlins - 2B Castillo is batting .368 (14-for-38) in his career against RHP Millwood. … OF Juan Encarnacion, who has missed three straight games with a strained hamstring, is expected to return to the lineup on Friday. … 3B Lowell has hit safely in six of his last seven games. Phillies - C Lieberthal is batting .400 (8-for-20) with four RBIs in his career against RHP Pavano. … LHP Rheal Cormier has not allowed a run in 16 1-3 consecutive innings. … RF Abreu has not made an error in 80 games this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Marlins - 18-24 on the road; Phillies - 26-17 at home.
INJURIES: Marlins - RHP Kevin Olsen (concussion), 15-day DL; RHP Tim Spooneybarger (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL. Phillies - INF Tyler Houston (finger), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL.