Braves-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies picked up a big win by beating the Atlanta Braves in the series opener, and would seem to have the edge again by sending a two-time Cy Young Award winner to the mound.

Roy Halladay, however, hasn't had much success against the Braves.

The Phillies go for a fifth straight win, while Halladay tries for his first victory over Atlanta since 2010 on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

A night after finishing with season highs in runs (16) and hits (21) in a win over the New York Mets, Philadelphia (77-74) hit a season-high four homers in Friday's 6-2 victory over the Braves. With St. Louis losing earlier, the Phillies pulled within three of the Cardinals for the NL's second wild-card spot with 11 to play.

"We got to take care of business for ourselves," said Kevin Frandsen, who had one of the homers.

Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also went deep for the resurgent Phillies, who've won 12 of 15, with all the losses coming to hapless Houston.

Utley and Howard, who were both injured for the first half of the season, have both stepped up lately.

Utley is batting .409 with 11 RBIs and 11 runs in the last 13 contests, while Howard has homered in three straight games. Howard is also 5 for 12 with two homers lifetime against scheduled starter Mike Minor (9-10, 4.31 ERA).

Atlanta (86-65) lost for the second time in three games, but remained six ahead of the Cardinals with 11 contests remaining. Its magic number for clinching a playoff spot stayed at five following Milwaukee's comeback win over Washington.

"We've got enough stress going on in the field. The last thing we need to worry about is if Milwaukee is beating Washington right now,'' Freddie Freeman said. "You've got to win games and if you don't win games it doesn't matter what's going on in the scoreboard.''

The Braves seem to have a good shot at a win, given how they've hit Halladay (10-7, 4.03).

In five starts against Atlanta since the start of last season, Halladay is 0-2 with a 5.81 ERA. The Braves are the only opponent he has not beaten among the 18 teams he's faced, and the ERA is his worst against any club in that span.

Chipper Jones is 10 for 20 with three homers and three doubles lifetime against Halladay, while Dan Uggla is batting .333 with three home runs in 33 at-bats and Freeman is 6 for 14 (.429) with two homes.

Uggla doubled twice Friday, and is batting .533 with a homer, four doubles and five RBIs in his last four games in Philadelphia.

Another reason for the Braves to be optimistic about facing Halladay is the eight-time All-Star has not been pitching up to his normal standard lately.

The right-hander is 4-0 in his last six starts, but that has more to do with a 7.75 run support average since he has a 4.70 ERA while opponents are batting .308.

Halladay will be squaring off against Minor for the second time in three weeks, and neither was particularly sharp in the last matchup.

In Atlanta on Aug. 31, Minor gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings, while Halladay allowed four runs and seven hits over 4 2-3 in Philadelphia's 8-5, 10-inning win.

Minor has been sharp since, however, going 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA. Against Washington on Sunday, the left-hander gave up a run and five hits in six innings of a 5-1 victory.

He is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this season.

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