Phillies-Braves Preview

The NL East has crowned a champion other than the Atlanta Braves or Philadelphia Phillies only three times since 1993, with the clubs each winning a World Series and making three appearances in the Fall Classic during that window.

That's a far cry from where they stand in 2015, bringing up the rear of the division and firmly in rebuilding mode heading into a three-game series beginning Friday night in Atlanta.

The Braves (57-90) and Phillies (56-91) both will finish with at least 90 losses in the same season for the first time since 1989 after Atlanta fell 5-0 to Toronto on Thursday, mustering only three hits while losing for the 14th time in its last 15 home games.

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Fittingly, the biggest applause from the sparse crowd came when former president Jimmy Carter and his wife appeared on the "Kiss Cam."

Philadelphia hasn't given its fans anything better to cheer about lately. It struck out 42 times - the most in franchise history during a three-game series - while being swept by Washington with Wednesday's 12-2 defeat.

Interim manager Pete Mackanin believes the young Phillies are hitting a wall during the grind of a long season many haven't experienced before. They'll have to finish 7-8 to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961.

"It's not like we had a real good team and all of a sudden fell apart," Mackanin told MLB's official website. "This is a day-to-day experiment. A lot of young guys are getting opportunities. We're learning a lot about them, and that's very important for next year."

Strikeouts were part of the problem the last time Philadelphia faced Williams Perez (5-6, 5.36 ERA), who fanned a season high-tying seven in seven innings of Atlanta's 7-2 victory Sept. 7.

That went much better for Perez than his first start against the Phillies, when the rookie allowed a season-high nine runs and walked four in a 9-3 defeat July 31. The loss began a nine-start stretch during which he's 1-6 with a 7.90 ERA.

The right-hander has walked at least three five times in that span, including exactly that many Saturday when he went six innings of a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets.

Perez won't have to face Ryan Howard, who has missed the two games with a left knee injury. Howard hopes to get back on the field, but there's a chance he could be shut down for the season.

The Phillies have dropped three of the last four meetings with the Braves, a stretch that began when Adam Morgan (5-6, 4.60) gave up four runs over five innings a 6-2 loss Aug. 2. Morgan, who grew up in nearby Marietta, Ga., has lost both his starts against Atlanta with a 4.50 ERA.

He hasn't been any better in either of his last two outings. The rookie left-hander allowed six runs in a 7-5 loss to Boston on Sept. 4 and four in last Friday's 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Morgan walked three in 11 1-3 innings in those starts after not issuing any in 22 2-3 over his previous four. He'll look to change his fortunes against Cameron Maybin, who is 3 for 5 with a double and a walk in their matchups.