The Philadelphia Phillies are inching their way up the NL wild card standings.
They’ll look to move even closer to a playoff spot Thursday when they try for a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
The Phillies (74-71) swept a doubleheader from the Braves on Wednesday, winning 6-5 in the first game and 7-2 in the second. Philadelphia gained a half-game on wild card-leader San Diego, which beat Cincinnati 10-0, and moved into sole possession of second place in that race as San Francisco lost 9-8 to Colorado.
The Phillies are 1 1/2 games behind the Padres.
“Every game is important now,” said first baseman Ryan Howard, who leads the majors with 56 home runs and was robbed of a grand slam by Atlanta center fielder Andruw Jones in the first game. “We have to keep the same mindset.”
The Phillies bounced back from a five-run deficit in the opener, scoring three runs in the third and three in the eighth.
“The first game when we came back kind of set the tone for the day, I think,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Braves (69-76), eliminated from contention for their 15th straight division title, have dropped three straight and fell 6 1/2 games behind the Padres.
“That’s not what we hoped for,” manager Bobby Cox said.
Chuck James (9-3, 3.57 ERA) will look to help the Braves avoid the sweep Thursday. He won his third straight start Saturday, allowing three runs in seven innings of a 7-3 victory over Chicago.
The rookie left-hander is 5-0 with a 1.96 ERA over his last seven starts.
“I’m definitely confident,” James said. “I kind of just go out there and, here it is. That’s just the easy way. I try to make it as simple as possible.”
James has made two starts against the Phillies, both this season, posting a 4.15 ERA in those outings without receiving a decision.
“You can’t ask for any more than the way he’s pitching,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s been fabulous. We just have a ton of confidence every time he toes the rubber. I expect him to win every time he goes out there.”
Philadelphia will counter with Jamie Moyer (2-1, 3.95), who allowed one run in eight innings of Friday’s 3-2 win at Florida. The 43-year-old left-hander has pitched effectively in four starts since being acquired in an Aug. 20 trade with Seattle.
“He doesn’t light the radar gun, but he’ll get you out,” Manuel said. “He takes the sting out of your bat.”
Moyer is 1-5 with a 5.29 ERA in seven appearances—six starts—against the Braves. He gave up three runs and two homers in 7 1-3 innings of Philadelphia’s 8-7 win over Atlanta on Sept. 3 in the first game of a doubleheader—his first outing against the Braves since 2003. He didn’t earn a decision.