The Philadelphia Phillies are in last place in the National League East, but enter Friday’s opener of a three-game weekend series in Atlanta looking to continue their strong play in September and extend their dominance of the Braves this season. Philadelphia beat the Los Angeles Dodgers three times in a four-game series this week - going 8-4 in the last 12 contests - and faces an Atlanta squad it has owned in 2017 while leading the season series 12-4.
Phillies outfielder/first baseman Rhys Hoskins continued his red-hot rookie season in Thursday’s 5-4 defeat, finishing with a double and two RBIs, and begins the weekend with 18 homers and 45 RBIs in 41 games. The Braves are trending in the opposite direction of Philadelphia, losing five of their past seven contests despite knocking off Washington 3-2 on Thursday. Atlanta, which has matched last season’s win total of 68 with 11 games to go, is 23-38 since reaching the .500 mark on July 16. Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte finished with one hit Thursday and is nine away from reaching 200 for the season.
TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, FSN South (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94 ERA) vs. Braves LH Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32)
Lively’s last start was cut short by rain after three innings Saturday against Oakland, after the 25-year-old allowed two runs on two hits. Following a 1-5 start through his first nine major-league outings, he has posted a 3.00 ERA while going 2-1 with a .216 opponents’ batting average in his past four outings. Lively lost to Atlanta in his second career start June 8, giving up three runs on nine hits in seven innings.
Newcomb beat the New York Mets in his last start Sept. 15, striking out eight while walking only one and surrendering two runs on six hits across 5 1/3 innings. The 24-year-old, who has struggled with his control at times in his rookie season, issued only nine walks in his past four starts against 25 strikeouts over 20 innings. Newcomb is 0-1 in two starts against the Phillies, posting a 2.45 ERA.
1. Braves 1B Freddie Freeman is two homers shy of becoming the first Atlanta player since Andruw Jones (2005-06) to hit 30 homers in consecutive seasons.
2. The Phillies committed two errors Thursday, snapping their 10-game errorless streak.
3. Atlanta rookie 2B Ozzie Albies snapped an 0-for-14 skid with three hits Thursday.
PREDICTION: Braves 4, Phillies 3