Atlanta (18-15) at Philadelphia (21-9)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri May 6, 2011
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A strong stretch of pitching has keyed the Atlanta Braves’ longest winning streak of the season, but extending it against the NL-best Philadelphia Phillies will be a challenge.

The Braves look to win their sixth straight when they open a three-game series in Philadelphia on Friday night.

After a slow start, Atlanta (18-15) has won 10 of 13 and five straight to stay within 4 1/2 games of Philadelphia (21-9).

The Braves completed a four-game sweep of Milwaukee with a 2-1 victory Thursday. Martin Prado(notes) hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and Brandon Beachy(notes) allowed one unearned run in six innings.

“Sweeping a team is never going to get old, no matter how you do it,” Beachy said.

Beachy continued a string of impressive outings by the rotation this week. Braves starters went 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA and four quality starts against the Brewers.

Atlanta, which hasn’t won six in a row since a nine-game run last May 26-June 3, is playing much better than it did while dropping two of three at home to the Phillies from April 8-10. The Braves won the first game 6-3, but were outscored 13-2 over the next two.

Prado has been important to their current run, batting .341 during a nine-game hitting streak. He’s 3 for 8 with two doubles against Cliff Lee(notes) (2-2, 3.66 ERA), who was charged with Philadelphia’s only loss to Atlanta last month and is scheduled to pitch Friday.

Lee gave up six runs and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings in that defeat. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 6.98 ERA in four career starts against the Braves, with the lone win coming in 2004.

While Lee has had his difficulties, he’s still a big part of a pitching staff that has a 3.03 ERA - the third-best in the NL. Atlanta leads the league with a 2.94 ERA.

Lee is trying to snap a three-game winless streak. He pitched well Sunday against the New York Mets, allowing one run despite eight hits in seven innings, but the Phillies lost 2-1 in 14 innings.

He takes the mound after Philadelphia’s three-game sweep of Washington, which was capped by a 7-3 win Thursday - the Phillies’ sixth victory in seven games. They are tied with Cleveland for the best record in the majors and have scored seven or more runs in four of their last seven games.

Philadelphia has been especially hot since Raul Ibanez(notes) broke out of his slump.

Ibanez drove in three runs Thursday, including a solo homer in the fifth. He went 8 for 12 with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs against Washington after entering the series on an 0-for-35 skid.

“He’s got a shorter swing, quicker bat, he’s staying on the ball, being selective,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “The biggest thing is he’s getting hits.”

Building on that success against Derek Lowe(notes) (2-3, 3.72) might be difficult. Ibanez is hitting .150 in 40 career at-bats against Lowe.

Taking the mound three days after his DUI arrest, Lowe gave up four runs and six hits in five innings of a 6-5 win over St. Louis on Sunday. He didn’t factor in the decision and is winless in his last three starts.

“It just wasn’t a good start,” said Lowe, who wouldn’t answer questions relating to the DUI.

The right-hander has given up just five runs in his last 22 innings against the Phillies spanning three starts, but he’s 1-2 in those outings, taking the loss April 10 after yielding two runs in seven innings of a 3-0 defeat.

The Phillies have won seven of nine against the Braves, including three straight at home.

Related Articles

Starting Pitchers

D. Lowe Tex vs. C. Lee Phi
9-17 Record 17-8
5.05 ERA 2.40
137 K 238
70 BB 42
1.51 WHIP 1.03


Friday, May 6