John Smoltz is on quite a roll.
Smoltz has been pitching brilliantly of late, posting a 4-0 mark with a 1.54 ERA and three complete games in his past four starts. The veteran right-hander went 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA in six June starts.
“Early on I lost a lot of games in the eighth inning,” Smoltz said after pitching a five-hitter in an 8-1 win over Baltimore on Sunday. “These last five games have been big because I haven’t lost in the eighth inning.”
The 38-year-old Smoltz earned 154 saves as Atlanta’s closer before returning to the rotation this year.
“He’s great,” the Orioles’ Rafael Palmeiro said. “He’s a great pitcher. He gets great results.”
Smoltz, though, is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this season.
Atlanta is coming off a disheartening split of its four-game series with Florida after winning the first two games. The Braves struggled against right-hander Josh Beckett in a 6-2 loss on Thursday.
Both Vicente Padilla and the Phillies will be looking to turn things around when they take the field on Friday.
Philadelphia has dropped 11 of 15 following a 12-1 homestand, and the promising Padilla has looked lost all year following offseason elbow surgery.
In his last start, Padilla allowed five runs and eight hits, including five doubles, over just 2 2-3 innings in a 7-1 loss to Boston on Saturday.
A former All-Star, Padilla has not been the same since winning 14 games in both 2002 and 2003. He has a 6.79 ERA and hasn’t pitched more than six innings in any of his 11 starts this season.