Braves Closing In

Slowly, the Atlanta Braves are closing on in the NL East lead.

They'll look to end a crucial six-game road trip on a high note Sunday when they close out a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Braves (62-55) started the week 4 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Mets, but took two of three in New York before splitting the first two games in this series. With Saturday's 7-5 win, they moved 2 1/2 games behind the Mets - the closest they've been to first place since July 21 - and leapfrogged the Phillies (61-55) into second place in the East.

Atlanta hasn't been within 1 1/2 games of the division lead since July 16.

"We're gaining games on the road, which is huge," Braves catcher Brian McCann told the team's official Web site.

The road trip also is Atlanta's first since a flurry of moves at the trade deadline. Slugging first baseman Mark Teixeira, acquired in a blockbuster deal with Texas, has driven in a run in all five games of the road swing and recorded back-to-back triples with Chipper Jones on Saturday.

"You probably won't see that again in the history of the game, or at least in our franchise," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Reliever Ron Mahay, who also came to Atlanta in the Teixeira deal, has thrown 3 1/3 scoreless innings on the trip and got three quick outs in relief of starter Lance Cormier in the fifth inning Saturday to defuse a Philadelphia rally.

"My job is to get him off the hook," he said. "Fortunately enough, I got out of there unscathed."

The only disappointment so far has been reliever Octavio Dotel. Acquired from Kansas City at the deadline for Kyle Davies, Dotel went on the DL with a right shoulder strain on Friday.

Oddsmakers from have made Philadelphia -1119 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 11 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta +107 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

The Phillies, meanwhile, lost for just the second time in six games despite homers from Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Rowand. They remained three games behind the Mets and haven't been within two since June 22

However, they'll be handing the ball to veteran Jamie Moyer (10-8, 4.70 ERA), who is 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA in eight starts against the NL East this season. He allowed three runs in seven innings of an 8-3 win on May 25 in his lone start against the Braves this year and is just 2-6 with a 5.04 ERA in nine career appearances - eight starts - against them.

Moyer allowed one run in six innings of Tuesday's 11-1 win over Florida, improving to 3-0 with a 3.28 ERA over his last four starts since losing three in a row.

Atlanta counters with Buddy Carlyle (7-3, 4.28), who is 6-1 with a 3.21 ERA over his last eight starts. The journeyman right-hander gave up three runs in five innings of Tuesday's 7-3 win over the Mets.

"He's our MVP, to come and do what he's done," Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur said.

Carlyle's only previous start against the Phillies came in his season debut on May 26, when he was pounded for five runs in four innings of a 6-4 home loss.

"I know my role," he said. "Try to keep my team in the game every game, give my team a chance to win. If I can do that, I've done my job."

by: Michael Cash - – Email Us

More MLB Baseball coverage from

 - MLB news wire
 - Current MLB Injuries
 - 2007 MLB standings
 - 2007 MLB schedule
 - 2007 MLB Umpire sheet
 - 2007 MLB stats
 - MLB scoreboard
 - Expert MLB picks
 - Accuscore predictions
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for daily newsletter
 - MLB home 


MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Kershaw tries to keep visitors' run going The Cubs seized a 3-2 edge in the NLCS by winning Games 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Will Clayton Kershaw be able to save the Dodgers’...
Thumbnail North Siders' bats rise as NCLS progresses Anthony Rizzo is still batting well below .200 in the playoffs. Yet the Chicago first baseman seems to be heating up at precisely...
Thumbnail Hosts ask Urias to give them 3-1 NLCS edge Tonight, Julio Urias will make history in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers simply hope that it’s for all the right reasons.
Thumbnail Francona needs relief corps to thrive again The Blue Jays suddenly have life in the NLCS. Now, though, can they truly put fear in the Indians and send the festivities back to northern...
Thumbnail Arrieta tries to lift visitors at Chavez Ravine After getting punched in the mouth in Game 1 of the NLCS, the Dodgers struck back on Sunday night. Can they keep running with the Cubs as the action...
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Headlines

More inMLB News  

MLB Team Pages