Phillies look to continue dominance over Braves (Jul 29, 2017)

BY AP • July 29, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies own baseball's worst record, but they keep getting the best of the Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies have won just 36 of their first 100 games in 2017, and six of those wins have come against the Braves. They are 6-2 against their divisional rival, improving that record with a 10-3 win Friday night.

Philadelphia hopes that success continues Saturday night as the teams continue a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Phillies are 4-0 against the Braves at home in 2017.

"The tone is set for the start of this four-game series," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after Friday night's win.

Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will try to help keep that perfect record intact. Eickhoff has been solid in the last month. He has a 3.13 ERA in his last four starts, holding hitters to a .226 batting average while recording 24 strikeouts in 23 innings during that span.

In his last outing, Eickhoff (2-7, 4.71 ERA) gave up just three hits and two runs in six innings against the Brewers.

"That's the kind of command I want to have every time out," Eickhoff told after his last start. "And when I was missing, I was just missing and I was able to adjust to it and throw it back in the zone, throw it out of the zone. It's huge to set up my curveball and the slider as well."

Eickhoff has had success against Atlanta throughout his career. He owns a 2.00 ERA in eight appearances against the Braves, the lowest mark against any opponent he's faced at least four times.

Braves starter Sean Newcomb, however, will be making his first career start against the Phillies.

Saturday will mark the ninth career start for Newcomb, a rookie left-hander. He had a 1.48 ERA through his first four starts but has given up 19 earned runs over his last four starts (18 2/3 innings) as his season ERA grew to 4.81.

Newcomb (1-5), a first-round pick in the 2014 draft, posted a quality start in his last time out. He gave up three runs in six innings against the Dodgers while setting a career-high in strikeouts with nine on Sunday.

"Yeah, he's gotten a lot of baptism by fire, for sure," Braves manager Brian Snitker told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "And I think over time it's going to plane out, because he was about as good as you could be, probably better than he was ever in the minor leagues, in his first (major league) games. Just the command, secondary stuff, the whole thing. But I still like what I've seen out of him. I think he's fine. I like the way, in his own quiet way, how he competes."

Newcomb will be facing a Phillies team coming off two of its best offensive performances of the season. The Phillies beat the Astros 9-0 on Wednesday before Friday's 10-3 win. The team has scored nine or more runs only eight times this season.

Philadelphia made a pair of trades Friday, sending outfielder/second baseman Howie Kendrick to the Washington and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson to Baltimore.