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Two of the top left-handers in the National League meet when the Atlanta Braves open a three-game series Friday at the Philadelphia Phillies. The NL East-leading Braves, whose magic number to clinch the division is 10, send Mike Minor to the mound to face Cliff Lee and the fourth-place Phillies. The two southpaws are in the top 10 in the NL in WHIP (Minor is sixth at 1.07; Lee eighth at 1.08).
Philadelphia has lost four of its past five to fall behind New York in the division, dropping the final two games of a home set with Washington. The Braves just concluded a 7-2 homestand by dropping the series finale versus the Mets on Wednesday afternoon. Atlanta leads the season series 8-4, averaging 5.1 runs per contest.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, Fox Sports South (Atlanta), CSN (Philadelphia)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves LH Mike Minor (13-5, 3.08 ERA) vs. Phillies LH Cliff Lee (11-6, 3.09)
Minor posted a 4.71 ERA in five August starts, but went 2-0 and has allowed only four homers in his past 11 outings. The 25-year-old permitted four runs on five hits in seven innings Saturday against Miami, and has pitched seven frames or more seven times in his last nine starts. Minor has not faced Philadelphia this season, and is 2-2 lifetime against the Phillies with a 3.94 ERA.
Lee needed 113 pitches to get through five innings Saturday, holding the Chicago Cubs to two earned runs on nine hits en route to a no-decision as Philadelphia suffered a 4-3 setback. He is 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against Atlanta this season, striking out 20 with just two walks in 19 1/3 innings. The 35-year-old has walked only seven hitters in 83 2/3 innings lifetime against the Braves, going 6-5 with a 3.12 ERA.
1. Atlanta sent C/OF Evan Gattis to Triple-A last week to get at-bats; the rookie is 4-for-7 with a homer since being recalled Tuesday.
2. Philadelphia is 10-10 under interim manager Ryne Sandberg.
3. The Braves lead the NL with 86 quality starts and the staff boasts a major-league best 3.19 ERA.
PREDICTION: Braves 3, Phillies 2