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Phillies-Braves Preview

AP - Sports

Brian McCann has a history of success against the Philadelphia Phillies, but he's absolutely dominating them this year.

He has a chance at a different type of history for the Atlanta Braves.

McCann looks to become the first Brave in 56 years to homer in seven consecutive meetings against an opponent and help his club beat the last-place Phillies for the fifth straight time Saturday night.

McCann, a six-time All-Star, has 19 homers with 75 RBIs against Philadelphia (45-55), his highest totals against any opponent in his eight-year career.

The catcher has been particularly effective this season, hitting .346 with 16 RBIs while connecting for a homer in each of his six meetings with the Phillies.

A homer Saturday would make him the first member of the franchise to put together a seven-game homer streak against one team since Joe Adcock had nine in a row versus Los Angeles in 1956, when the Braves (55-44) were located in Milwaukee.

McCann hit a three-run shot to power Atlanta's 6-1 victory Friday to open this three-game set. He has a .321 average with eight homers and 19 RBIs in his last 15 games, lifting his average 17 points to .242.

"I like hitting right now," McCann said. "It's been a good couple of weeks, a good month I guess. I'm just glad I'm back to where I have been my whole career. My first half was brutal. I just put it behind me.

"To be honest, I think that was the best thing that's ever happened to me. It made me get back to the basics and doing what I've always done. It was a wakeup call, it really was."

McCann is 10 for 24 with three homers versus Joe Blanton, Philadelphia's scheduled starter Saturday.

Blanton (8-8, 4.70 ERA), though, was outstanding in his latest outing at Turner Field, tossing a three-hit gem in a 4-0 win May 3. It was his first victory in Atlanta after going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in his previous six visits - five starts.

The right-hander struggled in his latest meeting with the Braves on July 7, surrendering six runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-3 home defeat.

Blanton has been better while going eight innings in each of his last two starts since, yielding five total runs while winning his only decision.

He's also been the subject of trade rumors with the Phillies at the bottom of the NL East - a seemingly insurmountable 14 1/2 games behind first-place Washington.

"It's something I got kind of used to," Blanton told the team's official website. "I got used to it in Oakland. Oakland is an organization that trades players a lot, so I've been used to it my whole career. It doesn't affect me one way or the other."

The Braves are second in the division, four games behind the Nationals.

Mike Minor (5-7, 5.49) will try to help close that gap, and he's 2-0 with a 2.92 in his last four home starts.

The left-hander could have used more help in his most recent home appearance July 18, yielding one run with seven strikeouts in six innings while being backed by one run in a 9-4, 11-inning defeat to San Francisco.

Minor experienced a similar scenario at Miami on Monday, allowing two runs in seven innings while the offense mustered four hits in a 2-1 defeat.

He lasted just 2 1-3 innings in his only start against the Phillies in 2010, giving up three runs and seven hits to take the loss.

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