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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, July 18 (All times Eastern)

Philadelphia Phillies (42-53) at Atlanta Braves (52-43), 7:35 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Philadelphia - A.J. Burnett (6-8, 3.83) Atlanta - Ervin Santana (7-6, 4.01)

(SportsNetwork.com) - While the rest was certainly welcomed, the Atlanta Braves hope that the All-Star break didn't cool off their awaking offense.

The Braves eye up a third straight victory on Friday night as they begin a three-game series with the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

Following a 1-5 stretch in which they were held to four runs or fewer in each game, the Braves plated 21 runs over the weekend in a pair of wins over the Chicago Cubs.

Third baseman Chris Johnson was at the front of the surge, notching five hits, three homers and seven RBI in the two wins.

The back-to-back wins allowed Atlanta to head into the break in a virtual tie with the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East and the club will look to snap that stalemate in the opener of an 11-game homestand.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, lost its final two games following a five-game winning streak and sits nine games under .500 as well as 10 games back of Washington and Atlanta for first place.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins entered the All-Star break on a five-game hitting streak for the Phillies, going 7-for-21 with three homers, seven RBI and six runs scored.

Rollins will try to extend that streak against Atlanta righty Ervin Santana, who was denied a third straight winning start with a 4-1 loss at the New York Mets on July 9. He was touched for four runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings.

Santana is 7-6 with a 4.01 earned run average on the season and the 31-year- old holds a lifetime mark of 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA in four starts versus the Phillies.

Philadelphia opens this set with 37-year-old veteran A.J. Burnett on the mound. He went 6-8 with a 3.83 ERA in the first half, snapping a three-game winless drought (0-2) with a 6-2 win over Washington last Friday.

Burnett allowed two runs on five hits and four walks over 7 2/3 frames, striking out six while notching his seventh straight outing of allowing three earned runs or fewer.

"Burnett has been a steady force, he's been a leader, he's been a veteran guy, he's been a workhorse. He really seems to be getting better, pitching quality games and continuing to do that," said Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg.

The right-handed Burnett is 5-12 with a 3.90 ERA in his career versus the Braves, getting a no-decision in the lone previous meeting this season back on April 17. He hurled seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball.

The Phillies recorded a three-game sweep in Atlanta from June 16-18, but the Braves responded by taking all four meetings of a set in Philadelphia in late June to take a 6-4 lead in the season series.

07/18 10:38:42 ET

  • NFL: Tampa Bay at Atlanta

    Thursday at 8:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Friday at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Maryland at Syracuse

    Saturday at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida at Alabama

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • David Cutcliffe Show

    Tonight at 7:00 on 620am

  • Triple-A National Championship: Pawtucket vs. Omaha

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • Dave Doeren Show

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  • NFL: Tampa Bay at Atlanta

    Thursday at 8:25 pm on 99.9 The Fan

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