The Atlanta Braves jumped on the Philadelphia Phillies early in Thursday night's opener of a four-game series. Sustaining that production will be key for the playoff-bound Braves, but they face a stiff challenge in Friday night's contest in a matchup with Cliff Lee.
The Braves had been shut out in three of their previous eight games, including twice in the last three, but pounded out 12 hits in last night's 7-1 win. They plated five runs in the opening frame, with Jason Heyward's homer to begin the frame getting things started.
Heyward went 5-for-5 and also scored twice, while Evan Gattis had three RBI as the Braves moved into a tie with the idle St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in the National League.
The Cardinals begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Braves pitcher David Hale picked up his first Major League win as he threw six innings and gave up one run on seven hits in his second start.
"I was a little more relaxed, but still nervous. I just kept the ball down and it turned out all right," Hale said. "Within, what, have I been here 25 days or something, I get to see a pennant celebration, two calls and a big league victory. It's pretty incredible."
The victory did see Brian McCann exit in the second inning due to a tight groin muscle. The injury isn't believed to be serious and McCann, hitting .256 with 20 homers this season, may at worst miss the rest of the regular season before being ready for the playoffs.
Atlanta could use a veteran bat like McCann against Lee, who is 3-1 with a 2.63 earned run average in four starts against the Braves this season. He has struck out 30 over 27 1/3 innings.
The left-handed Lee has a 2.12 ERA in his last seven starts, holding opponents to two earned runs or less each time out. He had won four straight decisions prior to a 4-3 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, yielding three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits over seven innings. Lee struck out eight without a walk.
Lee, 35, is 14-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 30 starts this season and will try to help the Phillies avoid an eighth loss in nine games.
Jimmy Rollins had three hits and starter Tyler Cloyd drove in the club's only run, but gave up seven runs while recording just three outs.
"I just wasn't executing," Cloyd said. "It was just bad. I wasn't executing any pitches, and they hit the ball hard. I wasn't doing my job."
Getting the call for the Braves will be Kris Medlen, who has a 1.59 ERA over his last eight appearances. He is unbeaten in five straight, winning four starts in a row before a no-decision versus the Cubs on Saturday.
The 27-year-old righty allowed just one run on six hits and two walks over 7 1/3 innings, leaving him 14-12 with a 3.24 ERA this season.
Medlen is 2-2 with a 5.01 ERA in four starts versus the Phillies this season.
The Phillies did record a three-game sweep of the Braves at home in the last meeting from Sept. 6-8, but have lost five of seven in Atlanta this season.