It's been 25 years since the Atlanta Braves had a share of the division cellar after the All-Star break, but they'll get there Monday night if they extend two of their longest skids in franchise history.
The Braves will try to avoid a 13th consecutive loss and 14th in a row on the road in their opener against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Atlanta (54-83) hasn't been in last place in the second half since finishing 65-97 in the NL West in 1990, but is on the verge of dropping into a tie for the NL East cellar with Philadelphia (53-84). The Braves' 12-game losing streak is their longest in one season since a 17-game skid in 1977 and their 13 consecutive road defeats are their most since a 15-game skid in 1935.
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"Never seen anything like this," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said after an 8-4 loss in Washington on Sunday. "Just keep battling, come (Monday) and try and win."
The Braves are just three losses shy of matching their longest road losing streak and another poor outing from Williams Perez (4-6, 5.65 ERA) could move them closer to that mark. The rookie right-hander is 0-6 with a 9.50 ERA in his last seven starts, beginning with a 9-3 loss in Philadelphia on July 31.
Perez was tagged for a career-high nine runs in 4 1-3 innings in his only start against the Phillies, and started the Braves on a 35-game stretch in which they've posted a 6.55 ERA. Atlanta has a 7.57 mark while losing 19 of 20 and an 8.14 ERA in its losing streak.
A matchup with a struggling Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.89) would appear to help the Braves' chances of snapping their skids, but the veteran has been dominant in his last four starts against Atlanta, going 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA.
Harang, seeking to avoid becoming MLB's first 15-game loser, is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA in three matchups this season and will try to use this meeting to earn just his second win in 13 decisions. He has a 7.04 ERA in his last 15 starts and is 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA in his past six.
The Phillies are seeking to work their way toward sole possession of fourth place in the NL East for the first time since Aug. 10. They're 5-2 in visits from the Braves this season and won three of four July 30-Aug. 2.
They're returning home from a 1-5 road trip against the New York Mets and Boston that concluded with a three-game sweep at Fenway Park. Philadelphia took a 6-2 loss Sunday, giving its staff an 8.34 ERA in five games this month.
"Nobody wants to end up in last place," manager Pete Mackanin said. ''We need to do some damage (against the Braves) and then the Cubs. We need to forget this road trip and start over.''
Freddie Freeman is hitting .412 in his last eight games against Philadelphia but is 3 for 20 lifetime versus Harang. A.J. Pierzynski is 9 for 16 in his past four matchups with the Phillies and is 3 for 9 this season against the right-hander.
Cesar Hernandez, batting .345 in his past seven contests, is hitting .433 in a seven-game hit streak against Atlanta, and Freddy Galvis is batting .429 versus the Braves this season. Jeff Francoeur is 7 for 12 in his last five games versus his former team.