Braves-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves opened up their series with the Philadelphia Phillies Friday with a loss, but offense came at a premium for both clubs.

After rough outings in their previous starts, Alex Wood and Kyle Kendrick hope to keep the offenses bottled up when the teams meet again Saturday night in Philadelphia.

The division-leading Braves (85-55) suffered a 2-1 setback in the series opener as the teams combined for seven hits. Cody Asche's two-run homer in the seventh was the difference for Philadelphia (64-77), while Atlanta's only run came on Andrelton Simmons' home run as Cliff Lee struck out 10 over eight innings.

Asche, who was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 31, is hitting .452 over his last eight games with nine RBIs. He started off his major league career by going 1 for 17 over five games.

"I wouldn't say my nerves have dissipated," Asche said. "I just think you learn to control them."

Even with Asche's recent surge, the Phillies have scored 14 runs with 29 hits and are 2-3 since trading Michael Young, who is 5 for 12 since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves will hope to keep Philadelphia grounded with Wood (3-3, 3.15 ERA) on the mound. The left-handed rookie gave up a season-high seven runs and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 7-0 loss to Miami on Sunday. He had posted a 0.90 ERA over his previous five starts, including six innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 win at Philadelphia on Aug. 4.

However, Wood had also been dominant the first time he faced the Marlins, throwing six shutout innings against them three weeks before Sunday's disappointment.

"I don't think it has anything to do with them getting a second look," Wood said. "I've thrown against some other teams more than once. Give them credit. They beat me like a drum today."

Kendrick (10-12, 4.51) gets the nod for Philadelphia looking to end a career worst-tying four-game losing streak. He is 1-6 with a 6.31 ERA over his last eight games and has thrown six innings or fewer in his last nine starts after throwing more than six nine times in his previous 19 outings.

The right-hander yielded five runs and eight hits over six innings in a 7-1 road loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

"You fall behind, it's tough to pitch," said Kendrick, who is averaging 17.6 pitches per inning in his last nine games compared to 15.0 pitches previously. "I went in and fell behind. That's what happens."

Kendrick owns a 7.80 ERA in his last three starts versus Atlanta. He gave up six runs and 11 hits in five innings of a 13-4 loss to the Braves on July 6. Justin Upton is 5 for 12 off him with two homers.

Simmons, who is slugging .706 over his last 11 games, is 2 for 7 off Kendrick with a homer.

The Braves have won 20 of the last 30 meetings but are 34-35 on the road this season compared to 51-20 at Turner Field.

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