It took a while for the Philadelphia Phillies to finally move above .500 this season, but not nearly as long as it’s been since they’ve swept a series in Atlanta.
The Phillies look to sweep a road series from the Braves for the first time in more than 12 years when the teams conclude a three-game set Sunday.
Philadelphia (25-24) won 6-4 on Saturday to give the Phillies their long-awaited first winning record this season, and moving it within three games of Atlanta (28-21) for second place in the NL East.
“It means a lot, but we’re still not where we want to be,” said Philadelphia right fielder Shane Victorino, who is 6-for-10 with a home run and four runs in the series. “We want to be division leaders.”
The Phillies will now try to pull off their first sweep in Atlanta since taking four games from May 5-8, 1995.
“Losing games in your division is tough,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “It’s hard to swallow. … You never want to get swept. We’ve got to win at least one of these.”
Chase Utley drove in three runs for Philadelphia on Saturday, giving him 20 RBIs in May. He leads NL second basemen with 20 doubles and 41 RBIs and is batting .353 (12-for-34) with five doubles and six RBIs against Atlanta this year.
Philadelphia will give the ball to Cole Hamels (6-2, 3.67 ERA), who leads the NL with 78 strikeouts in only 68 2-3 innings. Hamels, though, had a four-start winning streak end Tuesday night when he gave up five runs and six hits in six innings of a 5-3 loss to Florida.
The left-hander is 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season, and 1-2 with a 4.21 ERA in four career starts against them.
Atlanta is struggling through its worst stretch of the season, losing nine of its last 13.
Kyle Davies (2-2, 4.47 ERA) will try to turn things around for the Braves. He is coming off his best start of the season, allowing one run and six hits in eight innings to beat the New York Mets 8-1 on Tuesday night.
Davies is 0-3 with a 17.10 ERA in three starts and one relief appearance against the Phillies. The right-hander has been solid in his last three starts, however, going 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA.
Edgar Renteria was one of the few bright spots for Atlanta on Saturday, going 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs. The shortstop is batting .406 (13-for-32) with three home runs, two doubles and seven RBIs against the Phillies this season.
Braves manager Bobby Cox was ejected for the second straight game Saturday and the fifth time this season, leaving him one behind John McGraw’s record of 131.