Braves-Phillies Preview

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’

official website.

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

start.

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

opener.

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

Halladay.