Atlanta (43-41) at Philadelphia (45-39)

Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA, US
Temp: 40° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 9, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Despite leading the National League in wins, Eric Milton will not be going to the All-Star game next week. He said he won’t let the snub impact his pitching.

Milton will try to become the NL’s first 12-game winner when the Philadelphia Phillies open a three-game series against the surging Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

The 28-year-old left-hander, who missed most of last season with Minnesota while recovering from knee surgery, is 11-2 in his first season with Philadelphia. But All-Star manager Jack McKeon said he left Milton off the team because of his 4.48 ERA.

The only 12-game winner in the majors is Texas’ Kenny Rogers. Two other AL pitchers, Oakland’s Mark Mulder and Boston’s Curt Schilling, also have 11.

“The name of the game is wins, and Eric has 11 wins and no one has 11 wins (in the NL),” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “I don’t think there is a fair way (to pick an All-Star team), because someone is always going to be left off who should be on.”

Milton, who made the AL team in 2001, said he was not bothered by not being picked.

“If I don’t go this year, I’m sure I’ll have a few more years to try,” Milton said. “I feel confident I’ll be an All-Star again.”

Though Milton is not going, teammate Bobby Abreu will be making the trip to Houston next week.

Abreu, named to the NL team Wednesday after winning the Internet vote for the 32nd man, proved his worth against the New York Mets on Thursday.

The veteran right fielder hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth and finished 4-for-5 as the Phillies won 5-4 and earned a split of the four-game set. He also had two doubles and three RBIs—drawing cheers from the crowd throughout the night.

“They’ve been good to me the whole week,” Abreu said. “These games are for the fans.”

Jim Thome added his major league-leading 28th homer for the Phillies, who lead the Braves and Mets by two games in the NL East.

Bowa said he hoped someone in the middle of the lineup—Abreu, Thome or Pat Burrell—would win it for Philadelphia in the bottom of the ninth.

“I said, ‘It would be nice if one of our big guys would win it,”’ Bowa said. “As soon as I got the words out of my mouth, he hit it.”

After holding off one division rival, the Phillies will try to do the same to another.

The Braves have won seven of their last eight to tighten the division race. Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York and Florida are all within 2 1/2 games of each other.

Atlanta had 17 hits, including two homers from Andruw Jones, on Wednesday in a 14-2 rout of Montreal, which completed a three-game sweep.

Jones and J.D. Drew both went 4-for-4, and Drew, Charles Thomas, Adam LaRoche and Rafael Furcal also homered for Atlanta.

“We want to make people know we’re still in the race. Now everybody’s thinking about us,” Jones said.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Thomson KC vs. E. Milton LAD
14-8 Record 14-6
3.72 ERA 4.75
133 K 161
52 BB 75
1.32 WHIP 1.35