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Phillies-Braves Preview

AP - Sports

The Atlanta Braves are on the verge of their longest winning streak against the Philadelphia Phillies in 15 years.

Giving the ball to Tim Hudson may improve their chances.

Hudson looks for another strong performance against the last-place Phillies on Sunday while leading the Braves to their second three-game series sweep of them this month.

Atlanta (56-44) has won five in a row against Philadelphia (45-56) after beating the NL East rival 2-1 Saturday.

The Braves haven't put together a longer winning streak versus the Phillies since a nine-game run bridging 1996-97.

Hudson (9-4, 3.71 ERA) will try to keep Atlanta rolling in a bid to cut into Washington's four-game lead atop the division. He improved to 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA in seven career starts versus the Phillies after scattering four hits in seven innings of a 5-0 victory July 6.

That dominating performance was the first of a four-game stretch in which Hudson has gone 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA.

His recent success continued in Tuesday's 4-3 win at Miami. He allowed three runs in the first two innings before tossing five scoreless to earn the victory.

"I threw some sinkers down in the zone and made them hit it on the ground and hopefully (the ball) goes to some of our guys," Hudson said.

Brian McCann is looking to re-establish his success versus the Phillies after going 0 for 3 Saturday, ending a run of six straight games with a home run against them.

He's hitting .310 with six homers and 16 RBIs in seven meetings this year, and is 9 for 23 with two doubles and a homer off Phillies scheduled starter Roy Halladay (4-5, 4.32).

The Phillies are mired at the bottom of the East as their five-year run atop the division appears to be coming to an end. Manager Charlie Manuel said they lack the edge they showed in winning the 2008 World Series and 2009 NL championship.

"One time we had the best attitude and the best hustle of any team in baseball," Manuel said. "We've kind of slipped a little bit. We've got to get that back. ... We get outplayed."

Surprisingly, Halladay hasn't helped.

He's 1-5 with a 5.52 ERA in his last 10 starts, and doesn't have a decision in the past two after returning from a strained lat that landed him on the disabled list for nearly two months.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner was battered in his most recent outing Monday, surrendering six runs and eight hits while hitting a batter in six innings of a 7-6 win over Milwaukee. That came six days after he yielded two runs with six strikeouts in five innings of a 3-2 victory at Los Angeles.

"I feel good," Halladay said. "The results aren't what I want. The execution isn't what I want. I definitely have some work to do but I feel 100 times better."

Halladay is 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA in eight games - seven starts - against the Braves. However, he was tagged for eight runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings in a 15-13, 11-inning loss during his most recent visit to Turner Field on May 2.

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