With Cole Hamels and Julio Teheran on the mound, Monday night's series opener between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves figures to be a pitchers' duel.
But Evan Gattis could disrupt those plans, given his torrid stretch recently and his success against Hamels last year.
Hamels (2-3, 3.07 ERA) owns a 1.78 ERA in seven starts since May 11, which is tied for the seventh-lowest in baseball in that span. Meanwhile, Teheran (6-4, 2.41) ranks fourth in the NL in ERA on the season despite a rough performance his last time out.
Hamels has permitted just one earned run in his last three outings spanning 22 2-3 innings while striking out 26. He fanned a season-high 11 while yielding five hits over eight innings in Philadelphia's 3-0 victory over San Diego on Wednesday, though he wasn't credited with the win as the Phillies' offense was shut out until a walkoff homer.
Along with San Diego's Andrew Cashner and the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija, the left-hander is one of three pitchers with an ERA of 3.07 or lower over at least 10 starts with fewer than three victories. The lack of winning decisions isn't necessarily bothering Hamels, though.
"I'd like to win them all, and I'd like for my teammates and fellow starters to win all their starts, too," he told the team's official website. "I just want them to know they can count on me to go out there and give them something to play behind."
Hamels is 14-8 with a 3.54 ERA in 31 games - 30 starts - against Atlanta and was 2-1 in three matchups last season. The 31 appearances are his most versus one club.
The host Braves (36-32) are hoping Teheran's last start was merely an outlier in an otherwise All Star-caliber season. He was baseball's ERA leader before allowing a career-worst seven runs and 10 hits over 6 1-3 innings in an 8-2 loss at Colorado on Wednesday.
Teheran had posted a 1.23 ERA while winning each of his four previous outings.
"It wasn't my day from the first inning," Teheran said. "I was trying to compete the whole game. I know it was a tough day for me."
The Phillies could be the perfect opponent to help Teheran get back on track after he pitched a three-hitter against them for first career shutout in a 1-0 victory on April 16. Cliff Lee struck out 13 but allowed 11 hits in a complete-game loss for the Phillies.
Philadelphia (29-38) was also weak offensively in Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Cubs, managing just three singles.
Meanwhile, the Braves cranked out 12 hits in a 7-3 win over the Angels with Gattis going 2 for 4 to help them retake first place. Gattis is batting .417 with seven homers and 18 RBIs during a major league-leading 15-game hitting streak. He's also 14 for 29 over his last seven matchups with Philadelphia with six home runs and 11 RBIs and homered twice against Hamels in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies on Sept. 8.
Jimmy Rollins is 5 for 13 with a home run against Teheran while Chase Utley is 4 for 10.
The Braves took two of three in Philadelphia from April 14-17 and have won eight of the last 11 meetings in Atlanta.
Hours before this game, the Phillies placed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. on the bereavement list after his father, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, died of cancer Monday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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