In a premier pitching matchup, Lee takes the mound opposite Hanson, who tries to win a sixth straight start when the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves continue their three-game set Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
The NL East rivals treated fans to a pitchers’ duel during Friday’s series opener as Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay(notes) and Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy(notes) each allowed two runs before Raul Ibanez(notes) hit a walk-off homer in the 10th inning to give the Phillies (56-33) a 3-2 victory - their 12th in 14 home games.
“A 3-2 game, it might be the same tomorrow and Sunday,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel’s 600th career win with the franchise increased the Phillies’ division lead to 3 1/2 games over Atlanta (53-37), which had outscored opponents 50-25 during a 9-1 stretch entering Friday.
The Braves, however, managed just six hits off Halladay before failing to reach base in three innings versus Phillies relievers. Getting things going offensively could again prove difficult against Lee (9-6, 2.92 ERA).
Lee, who went 5-0 with an MLB-low 0.21 ERA in June and became the first Phillies pitcher since 1950 to throw three consecutive shutouts, got off to a rough start this month. The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner saw his career-best scoreless-innings streak end at 34 after yielding seven runs - six earned - and 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 7-4 defeat at Toronto.
“I don’t really care about the month I had,” said Lee, who owns a 6.15 ERA over five career starts against Atlanta. “I care about today and giving the team a chance to win.”
Lee posted a similar line during his first start versus the Braves this year, allowing six runs and 10 hits in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of a 6-3 road loss April 8. He, however, was overpowering during the Phillies’ 5-0 defeat May 6, giving up three runs and striking out a career-high 16 over seven innings.
While Lee dominated the headlines during his stellar stretch, Hanson (10-4, 2.52) has quietly gone about business over his five-start winning streak, during which he’s compiled a 1.97 ERA and struck out 38 in 32 innings.
Hanson lowered his opponents batting average to .192 after surrendering one run and four hits in seven innings of Monday’s 4-1 win over Colorado.
“I just wanted to go out there, execute my game plan and worry about our team,” he told the Braves’ official website. “That’s all I’m worried about right now - going out and giving us a chance to win. I’m going to worry about that for the rest of the year.”
Hanson was outstanding in four starts against the Phillies last season, going 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA. He could post similar numbers against a Philadelphia lineup missing Shane Victorino(notes) and possibly fellow All-Star Placido Polanco(notes).
Victorino (sprained right thumb) was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday while Polanco (sore back), who missed his third consecutive game, is questionable for this one.