Braves-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

Showing no ill-effects from being plunked early this week, Freddie Freeman had a big night at Citizens Bank Park to help put the Atlanta Braves back on top in the NL East.

The victory, however, may prove costly with the loss of slugging catcher Evan Gattis.

As Freeman looks to continue his recent surge, the Braves could be short-handed as they try to improve to 7-3 on their current trip with a doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

Trailing Washington in the division since June 21, Atlanta (41-38) forced a first-place tie with the Nationals on Friday by taking the opener of this four-game set 4-2.

Two days after getting drilled in the right triceps and leaving a game against Houston, Freeman appeared to be back at full strength Friday. The All-Star first baseman went 3 for 5 with a home run, double and four RBIs to help the Braves avoid their fifth straight loss to the Phillies (36-43).

Freeman, who had batted .196 in his previous 12 games at Philadelphia, is hitting .385 over his last 12 overall.

"This shows how he can carry a ballclub," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez's club, however, suffered another scare when Gattis left in the first inning with back spasms. Gattis, 11 for 24 with five homers in his last six games versus Philadelphia, is day to day.

His absence could be a big loss for the Braves, who have totaled four runs of support in Ervin Santana's last four outings.

Santana (5-5, 4.15 ERA) has put up four quality starts in his last five, but he's hoping to avoid a fourth straight defeat after allowing three runs over six innings in Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Nationals.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts over 12 innings in a pair of 2014 starts against the Phillies.

Ryan Howard has had good swings against Santana, going 2 for 5 with two homers and three RBIs. The first baseman, who went 0 for 4 Friday, is hitting .186 in his last 12 home games versus Atlanta.

Ben Revere had three of the team's seven hits in the series opener as Philadelphia lost for the fifth time in seven games. The leadoff man is 6 for 10 with two stolen bases in his last two contests.

The Phillies have also lost their starting catcher Carlos Ruiz, who is out with concussion-like symptoms. Ruiz was beaned in the head in the 11th inning of Thursday's 5-3, 14-inning victory over Miami.

Cameron Rupp could be back behind the plate as Roberto Hernandez (3-6, 4.41) looks to build on one of his best outings. He allowed two runs and three hits with six strikeouts over six innings in Monday's 4-0 home loss to Miami.

In his previous start June 18, Hernandez gave up five runs over six innings in a 10-5 win at Atlanta. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against the Braves in 2014.

Atlanta's David Hale (2-2, 3.14) will get the spot start against Philadelphia's Sean O'Sullivan in the nightcap.

Hale, who has worked in long relief for most of the season, makes his first start since limiting the Reds to one run over eight inning in a 4-1 home win April 26.

O'Sullivan is expected to be brought up from Triple-A, where he's posted a 4.31 ERA in 10 starts. In 37 career big-league starts from 2009-13, the right-hander is 9-15 with a 6.02 ERA.

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