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May begins with the Atlanta Braves trying to distance themselves from the team that has owned the National League East the past five years. Somewhat limited by injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Philadelphia Phillies stumbled to a 11-12 April, but rank fourth in the NL in ERA (3.03) and feature one of the top starting rotations in the game. Atlanta posted its first winning April since 2007 and has won 14 of its past 19 despite losing at home to Pittsburgh on Monday.
Two of the better pitchers through the first month of the season face off in the series opener at Turner Field. Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels has won his past three starts, while Atlanta’s Brandon Beach has held opponents to a .191 batting average. The Phillies blew a 4-1 eighth-inning lead Monday against the Cubs, only to rally for a 6-4 victory. The Braves sit second in the East, one-half game behind Washington. Philadelphia is fourth, 3½ games out of first.
Phillies Braves Betting
When: 7:10 PM ET, Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Where: Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, TCN (Philadelphia), SportSouth (Atlanta)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Philadelphia LH Cole Hamels (3-1, ERA 2.73) vs. Atlanta RH Brandon Beachy (2-1, ERA 1.05).
Since a rough outing in his season debut, Hamels has pitched well in winning three consecutive starts. He struck out seven and allowed four hits in eight innings Wednesday at Arizona. In his past three starts, Hamels has struck out 21 in 21 innings with three walks. Beachy got a no-decision in his last start Wednesday at Los Angeles, striking out six and allowing two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. Beachy did not allow an earned run in victories over Milwaukee (seven innings, three hits) and Arizona (7 1/3 innings, four hits).
1. The Phillies won the season series last year, 12-6, including a three-game sweep at Turner Field at the end of the regular season as the Braves lost the NL wild card.
2. Atlanta right fielder Jason Heyward did not play Monday with soreness in his right oblique. Heyward, who suffered through a miserable 2011 season, is hitting .273 and ranks fourth in the majors with eight stolen bases.
3. Philadelphia starter Cliff Lee, on the disabled list with a strained oblique, may not be ready to pitch when he is eligible to come off the DL on Friday.