Fox News - Fair & Balanced


National League Preview from The Sports Network

Saturday, September 22nd (All times Eastern)

Atlanta Braves (86-65) at Philadelphia Phillies (77-74), 4:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Mike Minor (9-10, 4.31) Philadelphia - Roy Halladay (10-7, 4.03)

(Sports Network) - Veteran right-hander Roy Halladay can keep the fleeting Philadelphia playoff hopes alive today when the surging Phillies host the Atlanta Braves in the middle game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

Philadelphia was largely written off in the playoff race for much of the season, but has played well lately to climb over .500 and within three games of the St. Louis Cardinals in pursuit of the final National League wild card berth.

Atlanta leads the race for the first of the two slots and is all but guaranteed a postseason trip with a six-game lead over the Cardinals.

Halladay, a 35-year-old Denver native, is unbeaten in six starts since Aug. 15, going 4-0 with wins over Cincinnati (twice), Washington and Miami.

He faced the Braves once during the streak and got a no-decision in Philadelphia's 8-5 win after allowing four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts.

The outing raised Halladay's career earned run average against the Braves to 3.38 in 10 outings in which he's 4-3 with three complete games and a shutout.

In 11 starts at home in 2012, he is 6-3 with a 3.82 ERA.

Atlanta counters with lefty Mike Minor, who can reach double digits in wins for the first time in his third major-league season.

The 24-year-old was 3-2 in nine outings with the Braves in 2010, then won five of eight decisions for them last season across 15 starts.

He got to nine wins this year in his most recent start, a 5-1 defeat of Washington on Sept. 15 in which he allowed a run on five hits in six innings.

Minor has faced the Phillies twice in his last 10 starts, losing a decision on Aug. 7 (3-0) and getting a no-decision in an Atlanta loss (8-5) on Aug. 31.

In the two games, he allowed 14 hits and seven runs in 12 innings.

On Friday, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz smacked back-to-back homers and Kyle Kendrick tossed 6 2/3 strong innings to lead the Phillies to a 6-2 win.

Kendrick (10-11) allowed just two runs on five hits and struck out six to pick up his sixth win in eight starts.

Kevin Frandsen and Chase Utley also added solo shots for the Phillies.

Tommy Hanson (12-9) was tagged for five runs on four hits and struck out five over 5 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.

Brian McCann and Jose Constanza knocked in one run apiece for the Braves.

The Braves won 10 of the first 15 games between the teams in 2012, but the Phillies won two of three when they last played from Aug. 31-Sept. 2 in Atlanta. Philadelphia won 12 of 18 games in 2011.

09/22 10:36:47 ET