The Philadelphia Phillies adjusted their starting rotation so their top three pitchers would face Atlanta in an attempt to bury the Braves in the NL East race.
Philadelphia (90-61) defeated the Braves 3-1 on Monday at Citizens Bank Park, opening a four-game lead in the East. Hamels limited Atlanta to one run in eight innings and Placido Polanco(notes) drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth for the Phillies, who will send Roy Oswalt(notes) to the hill in Wednesday’s finale.
Two-time reigning NL champion Philadelphia has won eight straight games and is a league-best 42-15 since July 21, when it trailed the Braves by seven games.
“You never want to feel comfortable in this game or relaxed, but I think at the same time, if there’s ever a time when you feel confident with where you’re at, that’s got to be right now, considering what we’ve done the last two months to catch the Braves and go ahead a little bit,” closer Brad Lidge(notes) told the Phillies’ official website.
Halladay (19-10, 2.49 ERA) has been instrumental to Philadelphia’s surge, winning nine of 11 starts in the last two months. He hasn’t been at his most dominant lately, though, posting a 4.79 ERA in his last three starts and yielding at least three runs in each of his last five.
The right-hander, who is trying to become the franchise’s first pitcher to reach 20 victories since Steve Carlton in 1982, had allowed one run or fewer in five of his previous six outings.
“I feel good,” Halladay said after giving up three runs and 10 hits over six innings of last Wednesday’s 10-5 win over Florida. “Stamina-wise, I’ve felt real good. I haven’t felt like I’ve gotten tired at the end of games. I feel just as good now as I have any other year at this point.”
Still, the seven-time All-Star could be a bit sharper. Halladay leads the majors with 234 2-3 innings and the Phillies are trying to keep him fresh for the playoffs, so he’s getting an extra day of rest before this start.
Halladay, who is 7-2 with a 1.38 ERA in 10 starts on five days’ rest this season, will also get an extra day off before his next start.
Facing Atlanta (86-65) should also help Halladay get back on track. Both of his starts against the Braves this season have been complete-game victories, and he has allowed just one run over 25 innings in three starts against them since the start of 2009.
Although Atlanta’s division title hopes are fading, the Braves lead San Diego by two games for the wild card.
Manager Bobby Cox has decided not to alter his rotation for this series and is sending his second straight rookie to the mound after Brandon Beachy made his major league debut in the series opener.
Minor allowed four runs - all on Justin Maxwell’s(notes) second-inning grand slam - in five innings of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Washington - his first major league defeat. The 22-year-old left-hander is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts this month.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- Matt Kemp tattoos grandparents on chest — and it’s awesome
- Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress charged with DWI in Dallas
- Bryant's 2-run homer rallies Cubs past Dodgers 6-4 in 10
- Samardzija overcomes shaky start, Giants beat Braves 7-0
- HRs by Correa, Gattis give Houston 5-4 win over Rays
- Upton and Verlander lead Tigers to 5th straight win