Braves-Phillies Preview

Cliff Lee found himself in the midst of a historic run prior to

getting hit hard in his last start.

In contrast, Tommy Hanson’s career-best winning streak remains

alive following another impressive performance.

In a premier pitching matchup, Lee takes the mound opposite

Hanson, who tries to win a sixth straight start when the

Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves continue their three-game

set Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

The NL East rivals treated fans to a pitchers’ duel during

Friday’s series opener as Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay and Atlanta’s

Brandon Beachy each allowed two runs before Raul Ibanez hit a

walk-off homer in the 10th inning to give the Phillies (56-33) a

3-2 victory – their 12th in 14 home games.

“A 3-2 game, it might be the same tomorrow and Sunday,” Braves

manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel’s 600th career win with the

franchise increased the Phillies’ division lead to 3 1/2 games over

Atlanta (53-37), which had outscored opponents 50-25 during a 9-1

stretch entering Friday.

The Braves, however, managed just six hits off Halladay before

failing to reach base in three innings versus Phillies relievers.

Getting things going offensively could again prove difficult

against Lee (9-6, 2.92 ERA).

Lee, who went 5-0 with an MLB-low 0.21 ERA in June and became

the first Phillies pitcher since 1950 to throw three consecutive

shutouts, got off to a rough start this month. The 2008 AL Cy Young

Award winner saw his career-best scoreless-innings streak end at 34

after yielding seven runs – six earned – and 10 hits in 7 1-3

innings of Sunday’s 7-4 defeat at Toronto.

“I don’t really care about the month I had,” said Lee, who owns

a 6.15 ERA over five career starts against Atlanta. “I care about

today and giving the team a chance to win.”

Lee posted a similar line during his first start versus the

Braves this year, allowing six runs and 10 hits in a season-low 3

1-3 innings of a 6-3 road loss April 8. He, however, was

overpowering during the Phillies’ 5-0 defeat May 6, giving up three

runs and striking out a career-high 16 over seven innings.

While Lee dominated the headlines during his stellar stretch,

Hanson (10-4, 2.52) has quietly gone about business over his

five-start winning streak, during which he’s compiled a 1.97 ERA

and struck out 38 in 32 innings.

Hanson lowered his opponents batting average to .192 after

surrendering one run and four hits in seven innings of Monday’s 4-1

win over Colorado.

“I just wanted to go out there, execute my game plan and worry

about our team,” he told the Braves’ official website. “That’s all

I’m worried about right now – going out and giving us a chance to

win. I’m going to worry about that for the rest of the year.”

Hanson was outstanding in four starts against the Phillies last

season, going 1-0 with a 1.21 ERA. He could post similar numbers

against a Philadelphia lineup missing Shane Victorino and possibly

fellow All-Star Placido Polanco.

Victorino (sprained right thumb) was placed on the 15-day DL on

Friday while Polanco (sore back), who missed his third consecutive

game, is questionable for this one.

Chase Utley, meanwhile, looks to extend his hitting streak to 12

games after going 1 for 5 on Friday. Utley is 4 for 14 (.286)

against Hanson.