The Braves will try to move closer to securing an NL wild-card spot Friday night when they begin this road series against the Phillies.
With 12 games remaining, Atlanta (86-64) has a six-game lead atop the wild-card standings, with Milwaukee - its closest pursuer - 8 1/2 back with 13 games remaining
Unlike Atlanta, which has put itself in good position to clinch a postseason spot, Philadelphia still needs a lot of help despite an impressive run.
The Phillies (76-74) are coming off a three-game sweep of the New York Mets , punctuated by a 16-1 victory Thursday.
The Phillies stayed four games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild card, with two other teams in their path. The Phillies and Cardinals both have 12 games left.
"It's up to us to keep playing," manager Charlie Manuel told the team's official website. "That's all we can do. Play each game every day, try to win, see what happens. We're going to have to get some help. Somebody's got to beat the Cardinals. And Dodgers. And Milwaukee."
Cutting into the deficit won't be easy this weekend. Atlanta won two of three against Miami this week, including a 3-0 victory Wednesday. Kris Medlen struck out six in eight innings and Jason Heyward 's sacrifice fly in the first inning stood up.
The Braves lost shortstop Andrelton Simmons and backup Paul Janish to left shoulder injuries during the series, though there is a chance Simmons could play. Janish, however, may be facing season-ending surgery after suffering a dislocation.
"They're going to do all the tests, whatever they got to do," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team's official website. "He won't play for a while because it's significant."
Atlanta, which has won five of six, has a magic number of five to clinch a playoff spot.
The Braves will hand the ball to Tommy Hanson (12-8, 4.33 ERA), who seeks to end a six-game winless streak.
Despite his lack of personal success, Atlanta has won eight of Hanson's last 11 starts, including the last two. He gave up four runs - two earned - and struck out seven over five innings of a 5-4 win over Washington last Saturday.
The right-hander has had mixed results against the Phillies despite Atlanta winning both starts. He gave up four runs in 3 2-3 innings in a 15-13, 11-inning victory May 2, but was sharper while allowing three runs in seven innings of a 6-3 victory July 7.
Kyle Kendrick (9-11, 3.95) will counter for the Phillies, coming off his worst start in a month.
Kendrick gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 5-0 loss at Houston last Saturday. He had allowed two or fewer runs in his previous six starts.
The right-hander wasn't much better against the Braves last month, surrendering six runs and seven hits over 3 1-3 innings of a 12-6 loss Aug. 8.
Despite being winless in two starts and one relief appearance against Atlanta this year, he is 5-1 with a 2.97 ERA in 12 career starts against the Braves.
Chipper Jones , whose farewell road tour continues in his final season, is 8 for 26 (.308) with two homers lifetime against Kendrick.
|September 18, 2012||Paul Janish||Day-to-Day||Shoulder|
|September 15, 2012||Brian McCann||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hamstring tendinitis|
|August 25, 2012||Ben Sheets||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 25, 2012||Ben Sheets||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 10, 2012||Chipper Jones||Day-to-Day||Back tightness|
|August 01, 2012||Jair Jurrjens||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|September 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 31, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus in right knee|
|August 29, 2012||Cole Hamels||Day-to-Day||Gastrointestinal illness|
|August 29, 2012||Vance Worley||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in right elbow|
|August 28, 2012||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee soreness|
|August 24, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies did all their scoreboard watching before taking the field, and then took care of their own business.
Kevin Frandsen hit one of Philadelphia's four solo homers to back Kyle Kendrick , and the Phillies inched closer in the NL playoff race with a 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
Ryan Howard , Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also went deep for the resurgent Phillies, who pulled within three games of St. Louis for the league's second wild-card spot with their fourth straight win. Milwaukee and Los Angeles also stand in Philadelphia's way with 11 games remaining.
Players quietly celebrated the Cardinals' 5-4 afternoon loss at the Chicago Cubs in the clubhouse and didn't waste the opportunity to make up ground with time running out on their season.
"We knew," Howard said about St. Louis' loss. "Whether the Cardinals win or lose, we still have to go out and win. This is a playoff push. This is what you play for. To be in the hunt with everything we went through this season, it's a fun feeling. I never gave up on anything. That's why you play 162 games."
Despite the loss, the Braves are in excellent position to secure a postseason berth. Their magic number for clinching a spot remained at five following the Brewers' victory at Washington.
"We've got enough stress going on in the field. The last thing we need to worry about is if Milwaukee is beating Washington right now," Freddie Freeman said. "That's the main goal. You've got to win games and if you don't win games it doesn't matter what's going on in the scoreboard."
Kendrick (10-11) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out six. He is 6-2 with a 2.17 ERA since Aug. 14.
"I'm confident in what I have and what kind of pitcher I am right now," Kendrick said.
The Phillies aren't going to win their sixth straight NL East title, but they have made a remarkable turnaround to still be playing meaningful games. When two-time All-Star outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino were traded on July 31, the Phillies were 45-57 and 13 games behind the second wild-card team. They are 32-17 since and have gained 10 games in the standings.
"I'm proud of them," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've seen times where we could've folded tent. That's a mark of a bunch of guys who love to play and definitely want to win."
Atlanta's Tommy Hanson (12-9) gave up five runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings to remain winless since July 30. Hanson is 0-4 in his last seven starts.
"As of right now, I'm not doing a very good job," Hanson said.
The Phillies honored retiring Braves third baseman Chipper Jones during a pregame ceremony. Philadelphia infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley presented the eight-time All-Star with a painting of himself taking a swing in the batter's box.
Jones received a standing ovation from a crowd that has booed him relentlessly over the years. He waved his cap in appreciation and tipped his hat again while walking back to the dugout.
Fans returned to booing when Jones came up in the eighth, and then cheered when he struck out to end the inning. Jones hit two walkoff homers against the Phillies this season.
"Fans in every park try to take the best players on each team out of their game," Jones said. "They question the ancestry of your mother, your wife and kids - nothing is off limits. It's always entertaining. I have a lot of good memories here."
Frandsen hit a towering shot to left to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the third. The journeyman infielder has filled in nicely for the injured Placido Polanco , hitting .329 in 155 at-bats.
Howard and Ruiz made it 4-1 with consecutive homers in the fourth. Howard has connected three straight days, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth to lift the Phillies over the Mets 3-2 on Wednesday night in New York.
Ruiz hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-1 in the sixth.
Michael Bourn 's RBI single with two outs in the seventh got the Braves within 5-2 and ended Kendrick's night.
Juan Pierre tripled and scored on Utley's RBI groundout for a 1-0 Phillies lead in the first.
Brian McCann 's RBI groundout in the second tied it.
Notes: The Phillies are three games above .500 for the first time since they were 28-25 on June 1. ... The four homers were a season high for Philadelphia. ... Jones entered the game with a .332 career average against the Phillies, and he has 49 homers and 151 RBIs in 244 games. ... Braves SS Andrelton Simmons could return to the lineup Saturday. He injured his right shoulder Monday. ... Braves INF Paul Janish could be out 3-to-4 weeks with a dislocated left shoulder. ... Pierre is hitting .458 (22-for-48) in his last 16 games. ... The Phillies have hit back-to-back homers seven times this season. ... Roy Halladay (10-7) faces Mike Minor (9-11) on Saturday afternoon. Halladay has won six of his last seven decisions for the Phillies.