Atlanta (76-54) at Philadelphia (65-66)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 87° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Aug 31, 2004
  • TV: SPSO, CSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Mike Hampton hopes to continue his brilliant second half when the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves open a two-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Hampton, who was 2-8 with a 5.55 ERA on June 29, has orchestrated an amazing turnaround. The left-hander has won eight of his last nine decisions, including Thursday’s 6-4 victory over Colorado.

Hampton rebounded nicely from his first loss in nearly two months, a 7-4 setback at Los Angeles on Aug. 21, limiting the Rockies to two runs and six hits over six solid innings.

Hampton’s hot stretch has coincided with Atlanta taking command in the East. He’s hoping to help the Braves nail down their record 13th straight division title during the season’s final month.

“The September stretch is going to be huge because we play about every other team in our division,” Hampton said. “It’s good to stretch the lead now.”

The Braves are coming off taking three of four from playoff-hopeful San Francisco, including Monday’s come-from-behind 7-6 win. Julio Franco delivered a tying RBI triple in the ninth inning and Andruw Jones followed with a game-winning single as Atlanta walked off with its seventh victory in eight games.

“We take every game like it’s our last game,” Jones said. “Especially when they give us opportunities like they gave us today. Every opportunity we have to win games, we’ve got to take advantage.”

The Phillies didn’t take advantage of the Braves’ shaky first half, and find themselves out of serious contention entering this series.

Jim Thome hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning Monday, but it wasn’t enough as the Phillies suffered a 9-8 loss to the Chicago White Sox in a makeup of an earlier rainout.

The defeat dropped Philadelphia 11 1/2 games behind in the East—a division it was considered a favorite to win prior to the season.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Hampton Ari vs. E. Milton LAD
13-9 Record 14-6
4.28 ERA 4.75
87 K 161
65 BB 75
1.53 WHIP 1.35