Braves-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

Big innings have contributed to the Atlanta Braves extending their big lead atop the NL East.

The Braves will look to ride their explosive offense to a ninth straight win Saturday as their road series continues against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves (65-45) have averaged 7.1 runs during their streak and have reached double digits in hits the last six games.

"Everything's a run," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Friday's 6-4 win that maintained his team's major league-best division lead at 11 1/2 games. "You see some guys with some good approaches, good at-bats, keep the lineup moving."

Atlanta rode a five-run fifth to its most recent victory, the fifth consecutive game it has had at least one five-run inning. The Braves also have been helped by the long ball, hitting nine home runs over their last four games.

Brian McCann has three of those home runs, including a two-run home run on Friday, while Chris Johnson added one of his own. Johnson is 21 of 44 (.477) over an 11-game hitting streak and His eight straight multihit games are the most for any Braves player since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966.

"I'm trying not to think about it really," Johnson said. "I'm trying to keep my same approach every single day, try to come in tomorrow do my exact same routine."

Jason Heyward, with two hits Friday, is batting .400 over his last six games, with eight runs batted in and 11 runs scored.

With the exception of Brandon Beachy's lone start, the Braves rotation has posted an ERA of 2.20 over the team's run.

Beachy (0-0, 17.18 ERA) will have another chance to join the club after he was pounded for seven runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 9-8 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday. In his return from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander, who posted a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts last year, was reached for eight hits by Colorado, more than he allowed in any start last year.

"It still stinks," Beachy said. "I'm not going to chuck this up to being part of the process. I pitched poorly and let the guys down after they got me the lead. It's unacceptable."

Beachy seeks his first win in eight tries against the Phillies. Atlanta has lost all of Beachy's starts against Philadelphia, but he is not completely to blame since the Braves have provided him 11 total runs over the previous even starts.

Philadelphia, which had just three home runs in 10 prior contests, matched that total in Friday's loss.

Delmon Young had one of those home runs as part of a three-hit effort to snap out of a 5-for-31 slump. He has a .429 lifetime average (9 for 21) against Atlanta.

Philadelphia's John Lannan (3-4, 4.10 ERA) will look to end Atlanta's streak. He has pitched well against the Braves in recent years, going 6-1 with a 2.96 ERA since 2010 as part of a 9-5 career mark.

The left-hander has gotten back on track after posting a 1-3 record and a 5.15 ERA over his first seven starts for the Phillies. He is 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA in his last four.

Lannan's last three quality starts, however, came against the Washington Nationals, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants, who rank 28th, 29th and 24th in the majors, respectively, in runs scored.

That was the story on Tuesday, when Lannan held the Giants to three runs in seven innings of a 7-3 victory over San Francisco.

Lannan, who has a 3.64 ERA on four days' rest this season, will pitch on three days' rest for the first time.

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