Preview: Phillies at Braves

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jul 18 2014 06:47:23 PM HST
Updated On: Jul 18 2014 06:47:24 PM HST

Cole Hamels makes his first start of the second half for Philadelphia on Saturday against the host Atlanta Braves, appearing in what could be one of his last games in a Phillies' uniform. Hamels, who is signed through 2018 with a club option for 2019, is a target of teams looking to deal with the rebuilding Phillies. The Braves are not in sell mode approaching the July 31 trade deadline, moving past Washington into first place in the National League East after their 6-4 victory on Friday.The streaky Atlanta offense plated 21 runs in its final two games before the All-Star break, and four days off did not cool the Braves' bats. Atlanta recorded nine of its 10 hits Friday with two outs, and has scored at least five runs nine times in its past 18 games, going 13-5 during that stretch. The Phillies have dropped 12 of their past 18 to fall 11 games behind the Braves in the NL East, and will have another top deadline target on the mound Monday at home when Cliff Lee returns from the disabled list to face San Francisco.TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, NBC 10 (Philadelphia), FSN South (Atlanta) PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies LH Cole Hamels (3-5, 2.93 ERA) vs. Braves RH Aaron Harang (9-6, 3.53)Hamels has won just once in his past seven starts, despite posting a 2.25 ERA during that stretch while allowing three or fewer runs in each contest. The Braves would not complain about a trade that sends Hamels out of the division as he is 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA in 32 career appearances against Atlanta. Hamels pitched seven shutout innings at Atlanta on June 16, walking two and striking out six without getting a decision.Harang was charged with eight earned runs against the Phillies on June 18, but held Philadelphia to two runs over seven innings on June 29 in the middle of a four-game winning streak since then. The 36-year-old has posted a 2.57 ERA during his win streak, allowing eight earned runs in 28 innings while pitching seven or more frames three times. Harang has surrendered more than three earned runs just once in his past nine starts.WALK-OFFS1. The Phillies have lost nine of their past 11 games and 20 of 28 against NL East competition.2. Atlanta RHP Craig Kimbrel has converted his past nine save opportunities, striking out 12 with no runs allowed in 9 1/3 innings during that span.3. Philadelphia OF Grady Sizemore collected two hits Friday and is 5-for-16 since joining the Phillies, following his release by Boston.PREDICTION: Braves 2, Phillies 1


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