Braves-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

Cliff Lee hasn't lost in more than two months, and considering the way he's dominated the Atlanta Braves of late, that might not change Friday night.

The left-hander goes for his longest winning streak in nearly four years as the Philadelphia Phillies host Atlanta in the opener of a three-game series.

Lee (9-2, 2.59 ERA) is 7-0 in 11 outings since losing to Cleveland on May 1. His 83 2-3 innings during that span are the most in baseball, with Lee going at least seven each time out. He's limited the opposition to two runs or fewer in eight of those games.

The former Cy Young Award winner is looking to win eight consecutive decisions for the first time since winning eight straight starts July 16-Aug. 24, 2009, a stretch during which he was traded from Cleveland to Philadelphia.

The last time he saw Atlanta was his first start of this season as he threw eight innings of two-hit ball in a 2-0 road victory April 4 - Philadelphia's lone win in the club's three meetings this year.

Lee was 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA in his first five career starts against the Braves, but he's 4-1 with an 0.78 ERA in the last six, limiting them to a .176 average in 46 innings with 45 strikeouts and three walks.

The only damage against Lee on Saturday came on a three-run shot by the Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez - just the third homer he's allowed in his last eight starts. Lee surrendered four hits over seven innings without a decision in a 4-3 loss.

Atlanta (49-36) was expected to counter with Tim Hudson, but the team's official website reported Friday that he would be pushed back to Saturday and Paul Maholm would start this game.

While the 37-year-old Hudson will get two extra days off between starts, Maholm (9-6, 3.69) will be going on regular rest. He last pitched Sunday when he won his second consecutive start, giving up two runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-2 victory over Arizona.

However, that outing came at home, and Maholm is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in his last five on the road. Then again, he's allowed only one run in his last 13 1-3 innings in Philadelphia. The left-hander beat the Phillies at home in his season debut April 3, going 5 2-3 scoreless innings in a 9-2 victory.

Maholm encounters a lineup that has been producing plenty of offense of late, but it hasn't necessarily translated to success for the Phillies (41-45). They registered 14 hits in a 6-4 win at Pittsburgh on Thursday, the 13th time in 20 games they've had at least 10. Their 211 hits dating back to June 13 lead the majors, and the club's 94 runs in that span also rank near the top of baseball. But they also allowed 94 runs while going 10-10.

Ben Revere was 3 for 5 and drove in two runs Thursday and is 13 for 29 over his last seven contests.

The Braves had won six of seven before dropping two straight to Miami, including a 4-3 defeat Thursday that saw Craig Kimbrel surrender the go-ahead run in the ninth.

Freddie Freeman went 1 for 3 with two RBIs and is batting .393 during an eight-game hitting streak, but he's 6 for 22 off Lee.

Ryan Howard is 3 for 27 in his last eight games for the Phillies, who have lost 13 of the last 18 meetings with Atlanta.

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