Mike Hampton is on such a roll, he even looks good in his losses.
Hampton, who earlier had a nine-game winning streak, allowed only three earned runs in 13 2-3 innings during his slide.
The 31-year-old left-hander got back to his winning ways on Sunday, allowing one run and four hits over eight innings in a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I felt like I made good pitches even on the hits I gave up,” Hampton said. “I don’t feel they hit too many balls hard. I was able to keep the ball down and away from the middle of the strike zone.”
Hampton will try to help the Braves move closer to clinching their 12th consecutive division title. With 15 games remaining, Atlanta’s magic number in the NL East is six. Any combination of six Braves wins or losses by the second-place team will lock up the division.
The Braves are beginning a six-game road trip after splitting a four-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies, including an 8-3 loss on Thursday. Despite the loss, second baseman Marcus Giles tied the modern franchise record with his 47th double of the season.
Florida has won five straight to take a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the wild-card race. Juan Encarnacion and Derrek Lee each had three hits Wednesday, helping the Marlins complete a three-game sweep of the New York Mets with a 7-3 win.
“We got contributions from a lot of guys,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “Everybody chipped in. We saved the bullpen, gave the relievers an extra day. It was a good win.”
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Marlins - 2nd place, 10 1/2 GB, NL East.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Hampton (13-7, 3.74 ERA). In 14 career games against the Marlins, Hampton is 8-3 with a 4.34 ERA.
MARLINS PROBABLE STARTER: Brad Penny (13-10, 4.08 ERA). Penny has won two straight starts and five of his last seven decisions. He allowed two runs and eight hits over six strong innings Saturday in a 14-4 win over the Montreal Expos. The 25-year-old right-hander is 5-3 with a 5.10 ERA in 10 career games against the Braves.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Gary Sheffield, .337 avg. and 117 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 39 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 120 runs and 25 SBs. Marlins - Luis Castillo, .326 avg. and 92 runs; Mike Lowell, 32 HRs and 105 RBIs; Juan Pierre, 60 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 6-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - LHP Hampton has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 27 starts this season. … 1B Robert Fick is in a 9-for-72 (.125) slump. … LF Chipper Jones is batting .458 (11-for-24) with eight RBIs in his career against RHP Penny. Marlins - C Mike Redmond was forced to leave Wednesday’s game with a bruised forearm after he was hit by a pitch. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day. … RHP Tim Spooneybarger underwent reconstructive elbow surgery on Tuesday with an expected recovery time of 12-18 months. … 1B Lee is batting .174 (4-for-23) in his career against LHP Hampton.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 41-31 on the road; Marlins - 46-26 at home.
INJURIES: Braves - OF Damon Hollins (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Gryboski (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Darren Holmes (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP John Smoltz (elbow), 15-day DL. Marlins - 3B Lowell (hand), 15-day DL; LHP Armando Almanza (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Toby Borland (appendicitis), 60-day DL; RHP A.J. Burnett (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Spooneybarger (elbow), 60-day DL.