Braves-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Braves entered this series with one win in their previous 10 games against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Now, the Braves are eyeing their first sweep in Philadelphia in five years.

Atlanta tries to end the first half on a four-game winning streak Sunday when the slumping Phillies look to improve from their worst spot in 12 years.

Losers of four straight in Philadelphia prior to Friday's 5-0 victory, the Braves (45-39) will go for their first sweep visiting the Phillies since April 2-5, 2007, after winning 6-3 on Saturday.

Winners of nine of 12 on the road, the Braves will give the ball to Jair Jurrjens (2-2, 5.19 ERA) in the finale as they go for their longest winning streak since a season-best six-game run June 3-9.

Unlike at this point last season when Jurrjens was looking forward to his first All-Star appearance, the right-hander's concern is re-establishing his spot in the Braves' rotation.

He's making a strong case that he belongs there, going 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three starts since returning from an April demotion to Triple-A.

After pitching five strong innings in Tuesday's 10-3 win over the Chicago Cubs, Jurrjens will get his first look at the Phillies this season. He had a 1.98 ERA while winning both of his starts against them in 2011.

Jurrjens will face a Philadelphia club that's dropped nine of 10 to fall 12 games below .500 for the first time since finishing 65-97 in 2000.

Philadelphia (37-49) didn't lose its 49th game last season until Sept. 11.

"It's hard for us to win because we just don't play good enough,'' manager Charlie Manuel said following his team's fourth consecutive home loss.

The Phillies will try to salvage the finale with Vance Worley (4-5, 3.46) on the hill.

The right-hander is looking to rebound from one of his worst career starts, an 11-1 road loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday when he yielded a career high-tying six earned runs in four innings.

"Today, I was just trying to get the ball over the plate and they hit the ball," he said.

Worley might want to try another approach against All-Star third baseman Chipper Jones, who is batting .426 (20 for 47) during a 13-game hitting streak.

Brian McCann could be another tough out. The Braves catcher has a homer in all four games he's faced the Phillies this season and has 11 RBIs in those contests.

The Phillies' offense could get a boost with first baseman Ryan Howard expected to be in Sunday's lineup. The former NL MVP was given Saturday off after going 2 for 4 with a double Friday in his season debut following an Achilles' injury suffered in the Phillies' 2011 finale.

Howard is 8 for 30 with a homer off Jurrjens.

Braves leadoff man Michael Bourn, who went 3 for 4 with a steal Saturday after learning he would replace injured Washington shortstop Ian Desmond in the All-Star game, has two hits in three at-bats against Worley.

The Phillies right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two starts versus Atlanta.

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