Braves hope for continued success against Phillies (Jul 30, 2017)

BY AP • July 30, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- R.A. Dickey had one of his best starts of the season the last time he faced the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Atlanta Braves' 42-year-old knuckleballer struck out a season-high eight batters while allowing one run and three hits in a June 8 win. Dickey and the Braves are hoping for a similar outing Sunday as Atlanta and Philadelphia meet at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies took the first two of their four-game set in the City of Brotherly Love. They came back for a 4-3 win in 11 innings on Saturday night as Ty Kelly hit a walk-off single.

While the start against the Phillies was one of Dickey's finest this year, he is coming off one of one of his worst outings of 2017. Dickey gave up five runs, four hits and five walks in only 3 2/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

"I was fighting my body a lot tonight and I just didn't feel great," Dickey told after the shortest start of the season. "Your body sometimes will choose the path of least resistance. Mechanically, my delivery wasn't as repeatable as it's been for the last month and a half."

Dickey is 6-7 with a 4.31 ERA this season, and he is 6-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 14 career starts against the Phillies -- the fourth-lowest ERA against any opponent he has started against more than five times.

The Phillies will send Vince Velasquez (2-6, 5.49 ERA) to the mound Sunday. The hard-throwing right-hander also struggled in his last start.

Velasquez made it through just three innings against the Houston Astros, surrendering four runs, six hits and three walks. It was Velasquez's second start since coming off the disabled list with an elbow injury that caused him to miss a month and a half.

The 25-year-old fared much better in his first start after the injury. He allowed just one earned run in six innings and struck out four against the Miami Marlins on July 18.

"I felt really good. Right from the get-go, just pretty much pitching to contact and trying to get early outs," Velasquez told after that outing. "Just trying to pick back up right where I left off and try to move on forward."

Sunday will mark Velasquez's fourth career start against the Braves. The third-year major leaguer is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 19 innings during his previous outings against Atlanta. All three of his previous starts against Atlanta came last season.

The Braves suffered an injury problem earlier in the series as Matt Kemp strained his right hamstring running the bases on Friday night. Kemp, who has a .290 average and 48 RBIs this season, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Saturday.

Sean Rodriguez started in left field for the Braves on Saturday, and he could be seeing a lot more playing time with Kemp sidelined. Rodriguez made his Braves debut on July 17 after missing more than three months with a shoulder injury. The 32-year-old utilityman has hit .154 (4-for-26) in his first 11 games for Atlanta and hit a pinch-hit home run on Friday night.

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