Phillies in Pursuit

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the familiar position of being in the thick of the playoff chase in the final week of the season. And once again, they are looking to get back to the postseason for the first time since the early 1990s.

The Phillies' playoff push continues when they open a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Philadelphia (85-71) is two games behind the NL-East leading New York Mets, but moved into a tie with San Diego for the wild card lead following the Padres' 9-4 loss to San Francisco on Monday.

The Phillies are looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since winning the NL pennant in 1993 while trying to avoid another disappointing finish. In 2005, Philadelphia won its regular-season finale, but Houston also won to earn the wild card. Last year, the Phillies were eliminated on the next-to-last day of the season.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Philadelphia -135 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 10.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on Atlanta +117 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

This year, Philadelphia closes the regular season with six home games, including a three-game set against Washington.

"We have to have a big homestand,'' Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said after a 5-3 loss to the Nationals on Sunday. "If we win all six, we get to 91 wins, and five of six is 90. Ninety or 91 wins might get us something.''

The Phillies were seven games out of first place in the East and four behind San Diego on Aug. 25, but have won 19 of 28 since.

"We feel like we got momentum right now,'' the Phillies' Shane Victorino said. "We're definitely going to keep upbeat.''

Chase Utley is batting .325 (25-for-77) with thee home runs and 12 RBIs during a season-high 18-game hitting streak, and is hitting a league-best .381 at home this season.

"Every pitch, every inning, every at-bat is important,'' said Utley, who's hitting .380 (12-for-19) with seven doubles in 12 games against the Braves this year.

Philadelphia is 7-8 against Atlanta this season, but has won six of the last nine meetings.

Jamie Moyer (13-11, 5.01 ERA) looks to give the Phillies another solid start. After allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Mets on Sept. 14, Moyer yielded one run and seven hits in six innings of a 2-1, 10-inning loss to St. Louis on Wednesday.

The 44-year-old soft-tossing left-hander had gone 2-3 with a 6.28 ERA in his previous seven starts.

Moyer tries to put together another strong outing at home, where he is 5-1 with a 4.33 ERA in his last six starts. That includes a 5-3 win over Atlanta on Aug. 12, when he allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.

Moyer is 3-7 with a 5.08 ERA in 11 games - 10 starts - lifetime against the Braves, but 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three starts this season.

Atlanta (82-74) beat Milwaukee 7-4 on Sunday to win for the seventh time in eight games. The Braves are three games in back of the wild card leaders, but also trail Colorado by two games for the final playoff spot.

"Until somebody tells us we're mathematically eliminated, we're going to keep fighting," Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira told the team's official Web site. "We're going to hope for some miracles."

Teixeira went 2-for-5 with a two-run double on Sunday, and is batting .373 (22-for-59) with four home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 15 games.

Atlanta's Chuck James (11-10, 4.11) will try to carry some momentum from his last start. He allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings of a 5-1 win over Florida on Wednesday - the left-hander had gone 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his previous four starts.

James has pitched well against the Phillies in his career, going 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in five starts. In three outings against them this season, he has gone 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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