The Philadelphia Phillies adjusted their starting rotation so
their top three pitchers would face Atlanta in an attempt to bury
the Braves in the NL East race.
After Cole Hamels shut down Atlanta in the series opener, Roy
Halladay looks to help the red-hot Phillies move closer to a fourth
straight division title Tuesday night.
Philadelphia (90-61) defeated the Braves 3-1 on Monday at
Citizens Bank Park, opening a four-game lead in the East. Hamels
limited Atlanta to one run in eight innings and Placido Polanco
drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth for the Phillies, who will
send Roy Oswalt to the hill in Wednesday’s finale.
Two-time reigning NL champion Philadelphia has won eight
straight games and is a league-best 42-15 since July 21, when it
trailed the Braves by seven games.
“You never want to feel comfortable in this game or relaxed, but
I think at the same time, if there’s ever a time when you feel
confident with where you’re at, that’s got to be right now,
considering what we’ve done the last two months to catch the Braves
and go ahead a little bit,” closer Brad Lidge told the Phillies’
Halladay (19-10, 2.49 ERA) has been instrumental to
Philadelphia’s surge, winning nine of 11 starts in the last two
months. He hasn’t been at his most dominant lately, though, posting
a 4.79 ERA in his last three starts and yielding at least three
runs in each of his last five.
The right-hander, who is trying to become the franchise’s first
pitcher to reach 20 victories since Steve Carlton in 1982, had
allowed one run or fewer in five of his previous six outings.
“I feel good,” Halladay said after giving up three runs and 10
hits over six innings of last Wednesday’s 10-5 win over Florida.
“Stamina-wise, I’ve felt real good. I haven’t felt like I’ve gotten
tired at the end of games. I feel just as good now as I have any
other year at this point.”
Still, the seven-time All-Star could be a bit sharper. Halladay
leads the majors with 234 2-3 innings and the Phillies are trying
to keep him fresh for the playoffs, so he’s getting an extra day of
rest before this start.
Halladay, who is 7-2 with a 1.38 ERA in 10 starts on five days’
rest this season, will also get an extra day off before his next
Facing Atlanta (86-65) should also help Halladay get back on
track. Both of his starts against the Braves this season have been
complete-game victories, and he has allowed just one run over 25
innings in three starts against them since the start of 2009.
Although Atlanta’s division title hopes are fading, the Braves
lead San Diego by two games for the wild card.
Manager Bobby Cox has decided not to alter his rotation for this
series and is sending his second straight rookie to the mound after
Brandon Beachy made his major league debut in the series
Mike Minor (3-1, 5.84) will make his seventh big league start
and first appearance against Philadelphia.
Minor allowed four runs – all on Justin Maxwell’s second-inning
grand slam – in five innings of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to Washington
– his first major league defeat. The 22-year-old left-hander is 0-1
with a 9.00 ERA in three starts this month.
Minor’s batterymate Brian McCann, who drove in Atlanta’s lone
run of the series opener, is 5 for 10 with a double against