Atlanta (43-36) at Philadelphia (40-39)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 34° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 1, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

John Smoltz is on quite a roll.

Hoping to follow up an excellent June with a quick start to July, Smoltz will take the ball for the Atlanta Braves when they open their weekend series with the struggling Philadelphia Phillies.

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.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Smoltz StL vs. V. Padilla Bos
14-7 Record 9-12
3.06 ERA 4.71
169 K 103
53 BB 74
1.15 WHIP 1.50