Braves get chance to slice into Phillies' division lead

League: MLB

Posted on: 05 Jul, 2024 at 11:58 AM

Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Two outstanding starting pitchers will face off when the visiting Philadelphia Phillies begin a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night in a battle between the top two teams in the National League East.

Philadelphia right-hander Aaron Nola (9-4, 3.43 ERA) will oppose Atlanta left-hander Max Fried (7-3, 2.91) in the opening game. Both have credentials that put them in consideration to be named to the NL All-Star team.

Atlanta lost 4-2 to the visiting San Francisco Giants in the decisive game of a three-game set Thursday, the Braves' fifth defeat in eight contests.

Philadelphia fell 10-2 to the visiting Chicago Cubs on Thursday to end a three-game winning streak. The Phillies have won eight of their past 12 games.

The Braves opened the season by taking two of three games in Philadelphia, beating a Phillies team that eliminated them in the NL Division Series each of the past two seasons. The Phillies have the best record in baseball this year, and they hold a nine-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.

The weekend set is the final home series for Atlanta before the All-Star break.

Nola was targeted by the Braves in free agency before he signed a seven-year, $172 million deal last November to remain in Philadelphia. He is coming off a 3-2 loss against the Miami Marlins on Saturday, when he pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits with nine strikeouts and no walks.

Nola faced the Braves in the second game of the season and was knocked out after 4 1/3 innings. He gave up seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits and one walk with three strikeouts. That performance was against his historical form. In 34 career starts against Atlanta, Nola is 15-11 -- his highest win total against any opponent -- with a 3.58 ERA.

Fried has allowed one run in each of his past three starts. In his latest appearance, on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he pitched six innings and gave up one run on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts in a no-decision as Atlanta won 2-1 in 10 innings.

"At the end of the day, I'm not going up against the other pitcher," Fried said after opposing star Pittsburgh rookie Paul Skenes. "I'm going against the other lineup. You know runs are probably going to be at a premium. You really try to hold the other side to a couple runs and just figure out how to do it."

Fried has made 20 career appearances, 14 starts, against the Phillies, going 4-4 with a 3.50 ERA. He did not receive a decision when he faced the Phillies on March 30, getting knocked out after allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

The Phillies remain without three starters: first baseman Bryce Harper (hamstring), designated hitter Kyle Schwarber (groin) and catcher J.T. Realmuto (knee surgery).

"I don't think they're that far away," Philadelphia manager Rob Thomson said about the three.

The Braves again might be missing shortstop Orlando Arcia, who had an abscessed tooth pulled on Tuesday. Center fielder Michael Harris II (hamstring) resumed running this week but isn't expected back for at least a few more weeks.

--Field Level Media