The Atlanta Braves look to win consecutive road games against the Philadelphia Phillies for the first time in nearly two years and draw closer in the NL wild card chase Monday when the teams conclude a three-game series.
The Braves (46-51) last won back-to-back games at Philadelphia from Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 2004, at Veterans Stadium en route to the 13th of their 14 consecutive NL East titles. This time around, the Braves find themselves a distant second to the New York Mets in the NL East—12 1/2 games back—but only five games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the NL wild card.
Edgar Renteria hit a solo homer and drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning before Jeff Francoeur’s three-run shot gave the Braves a 5-1 win Sunday over the Phillies (44-51). Atlanta won despite playing without injured top offensive players Chipper Jones (torso) and Andruw Jones (back).
Both are listed as day-to-day and expected to miss the series finale.
“They’re both still hurting,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “I’ll give them a few more days.”
With two of their top hitters sidelined, the Braves may need a solid outing from inconsistent hurler Tim Hudson (7-8, 4.95 ERA), who hopes to win consecutive starts for the first time this season.
The right-hander has struggled all season and is one loss away from matching his career high set in 2001 with Oakland and matched in 2002 and 2005. He was 14-9 with a 3.52 ERA in 29 starts last season—his first with the Braves.
Hudson has allowed five earned runs in five of his last six outings, going 1-3 with an 8.33 ERA while giving up seven homers in that span.
The two-time All-Star won his last start, pitching five good innings before being pulled in the sixth after allowing four runs in Tuesday’s 14-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
He is 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA in four career starts against the Phillies—all coming last season.
Philadelphia’s Chase Utley looks to increase his hitting streak to 24 games — the longest in the majors this season—against Hudson.
Utley tied Renteria for the season high Sunday, going 1-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday. Utley is hitting .394 with 12 doubles, four homers and 17 RBIs during the streak—which started June 23—but is 2-for-9 (.222) with four strikeouts lifetime against Hudson.
Rookie Cole Hamels (2-4, 5.36) will make his first career start against the Braves for the Phillies. The 22-year-old left-hander has allowed three runs and six hits in each of his last two starts, winning one and not getting a decision in the other, an 8-6 loss by the Phillies last Monday to the San Diego Padres.
Hamels, who has struck out 50 batters in 50 1-3 innings this season, has received only 21 runs of support in his 10 starts.
Besides Utley, Phillies leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins also is producing offensively. He is 11-for-23 (.478) with two homers in his last five games, raising his batting average 13 points to .267, which is still his lowest since batting .263 in 2003.
Rollins has a 14-game hitting streak against the Braves, hitting .476 (30-for-63) with 12 runs scored, nine doubles and six stolen bases.