Braves, Phillies battle for top spot in NL East

First place in the National League East is on the line this week in Philadelphia.

Two of baseball’s bigger surprises through two months, the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies, kick off a three-game on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Braves (28-17) enter with a 1.5-game lead over the Phillies (26-18) in a division where four teams are at least three games above .500.

Atlanta padded its division lead in shocking fashion Sunday afternoon. The Braves scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 10-9 comeback win over the Miami Marlins.

“Obviously, this puts us where we need to be. Every win is a good win, and this one just happened to be a walk-off,” Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, who had the winning hit, told FOX Sports South in a postgame interview. “We’re going to keep rolling. We’re going to keep doing what we do and come out (Monday) and take care of business.”

This week’s series is already the fourth between the Braves and Phillies this season. The Braves are 6-3 against the Phillies in 2018, winning each of the first three series.

But the Phillies have been hot lately. Despite losing Sunday, Philadelphia is 8-3 in their last 11 games. The team returns home — where it is 16-6 this season — after a 3-2 road trip that featured one game in Baltimore and four in St. Louis.

“To go home after a winning road trip, we have a lot to feel good about. We’re ready, we’re prepared for Atlanta,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said to reporters Sunday. “We’re excited about that series, and we’re ready to roll.”

The Phillies’ bats were quieted Sunday as the offense had just two hits in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Center fielder Odubel Herrera saw his 45-game on-base streak end, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (3-2, 2.87 ERA) will be making his fourth start of the season against the Phillies on Monday. Foltynewicz is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA against Philadelphia this year, and he has a 3.74 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) against the club.

Foltynewicz is coming off a 10-strikeout performance against the Chicago Cubs. The 26-year-old lasted only five innings in the outing, however, as he needed 107 pitches and walked five hitters.

Nick Pivetta (3-2, 3.72), the Phillies’ starter on Monday, also recorded double-digit strikeouts in his last outing. The right-hander struck out 11 and gave up just two hits and one run in seven innings against the Baltimore Orioles last Wednesday.

“I felt really, really comfortable the whole entire time. I thought I had command of all my pitches,” Pivetta, who has 18 strikeouts in his last 12 innings, told reporters after the start. “That was really nice. Whenever that happens, good things can happen.”

The second-year major leaguer has also faced the Braves three times this season with a 5.14 ERA in those appearances. Pivetta is 3-1 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.290 WHIP in six career starts against Atlanta.