(Sports Network) – The Philadelphia Phillies were able to line up their rotation prior to this three-game set with the Atlanta Braves in the hopes of moving closer to their fourth straight National League East title.
So far, so good.
Looking to win a fifth consecutive start, Roy Oswalt will take the hill this evening for Philadelphia and tries to pitch his club to a sweep of Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park.
Hamels hurled eight innings of one-run ball to win Monday’s opener before Halladay become the NL’s first 20-game winner thanks to seven solid innings in Tuesday’s 5-3 triumph.
Halladay gave up three runs on seven hits to become the first Phillies starter to win 20 games since Steve Carlton in 1982. He also became the first right- hander in team history to reach the mark since Robin Roberts in 1955.
“It’s definitely special [to win 20 games], but it’s secondary to me with us trying to get into the playoffs,” said Halladay. “Finishing these last few weeks strong has been the priority. To be able to pitch in meaningful games at this point in the season makes all the difference.”
It looks like Halladay will be pitching some meaningful games come October, as the Phillies have upped their advantage over the second-place Braves to five games with 10 to play. In winning a season-high ninth straight game, Philadelphia lowered its magic number to clinch the division to six.
Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer in the third inning and Raul Ibanez drove in the other two runs for the Phils, who have also won 21 of their last 25 and evened their season series with the Braves at seven games apiece.
The two clubs close out the regular season against each other with three games in Atlanta from Oct. 1-3.
Oswalt will try to help the Phillies record their first sweep of the Braves since they took all three games of a set in Atlanta from Sept. 16-18, 2008.
The former Houston starter is undefeated over his last nine starts since losing his Philadelphia debut on July 30. Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.55 earned run average since, and he beat Washington on Friday after limiting the Nationals to a run over six innings.
The 33-year-old righty is 13-13 with a 2.90 ERA in 30 total starts this year and will be aiming for his first-ever regular-season victory over the Braves. He is 0-3 with a 7.58 ERA versus them in seven lifetime starts.
Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson has had better luck against his opponent. The 24-year- old is 1-0 in two starts against the Phillies this year, giving up just three runs over 11 1/3 total frames.
Hanson won for just the second time in his last 14 starts (2-6) on Friday, besting the Mets after giving up four runs on five hits over six innings. The right-hander did retire 13 of the final 14 batters faced to improve to 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in four September starts.
Hanson is 10-11 with a 3.62 ERA overall this year and will try to turn in a better outing tonight than Mike Minor did on Tuesday. Minor lasted just 2 1/3 innings and was charged with three runs on seven hits.
“We only got 2 1/3 innings from our starter, and it was hard to work around that,” said Atlanta manager Bobby Cox.
Atlanta began its current nine-game road trip with a three-game sweep in New York and still leads the NL Wild Card race by one game over San Diego despite losing the first two tests of this series.
Appearing in just his 12th career game, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman connected on the first home run of his career in last night’s loss.