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Preview: Phillies Face Braves In Pivotal Three Game Set

(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Braves certainly have looked like an All-Star filled team when playing at home. They have been slightly less impressive on the road.

The first-place Braves, who are currently slated to send five players to next week's All-Star Game, will try to improve on their road record this evening when they begin a three-game set versus the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Atlanta will hit the road for six straight beginning tonight after a 6-3 homestand that upped its MLB-leading home record to 30-10. The Braves, though, are 18-24 this year as the guest and are hitting the road for the first time since getting swept in three-games in Chicago by the White Sox on June 22-24.

Now would be a good time for the Braves to get hot away from Atlanta. After visiting the Phillies, they head up north to take on the Mets for three games. Atlanta leads New York by two games for first place in the National League East and is five up on Philadelphia.

Atlanta's homestand did end on a down note with Sunday's 3-2 setback to Florida, just the Braves' fourth loss in their last 24 home games and it also snapped a three-game overall win streak. All-Star Tim Hudson allowed three runs over eight innings in the loss, while fellow All-Star Brian McCann had two hits and homered.

"We came up on the short end today," Hudson said. "It was tough game to hit in [with the shadows]. A couple of pitches cost us the game."

Hudson and McCann were two of the five players selected to the Mid-Summer Classic on Sunday and will be joined by teammates Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Omar Infante. Prado is scheduled to replaced injured Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in the starting lineup, while Heyward may miss the game due to an injured thumb.

Atlanta will be facing another All-Star tonight in Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, who is 9-7 with a 2.42 earned run average this year but has lost four of his last five starts, allowing seven homers over his last four outings.

The 33-year-old righty gave up a pair of homers in a loss to the Reds on Wednesday, also getting charged with four runs on a career-high 13 hits over eight innings with 10 strikeouts. He is 5-4 with a 2.23 ERA in nine starts at home this year.

Halladay faced the Braves on April 21 and hurled a five-hit shutout with seven strikeouts, giving him a 2-0 mark and 0.46 ERA in three career games versus Atlanta, two of those starts.

The Braves counter with Derek Lowe, who is 1-2 with a 4.75 ERA in five outings since a three-start winning streak. In his last trip to the hill on Tuesday versus the Nationals, the right-hander gave up four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings of a 7-2 setback.

Lowe is 9-6 with a 4.53 ERA this year and just 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts versus the Phillies in 2010. However, he held them to one run over eight innings the last time he faced them on June 2, striking out seven to complete a three-game home sweep.

That gave the Braves four wins in six home meetings with the Phillies this year, but they dropped two of three in their lone trip to Philadelphia on May 7-9.

The Phillies return home after a 4-6 road trip that included three losses in four games to the Pirates. Philadelphia scored just two runs in the first two games of the series before breaking out with a 12-4 victory on Saturday. However, the club was dealt a 8-5 setback yesterday.

Dane Sardinha homered and was one of five different Philadelphia players to drive in a run, but the Phillies allowed six runs in the seventh inning.

"We got a lead, we scored three in the third ... and the kid (Sardinha) hit the homer in the seventh," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "But we couldn't hold a lead. ... Three-run lead in the seventh inning, more than likely you win those games but it didn't turn out that way."

First baseman Ryan Howard, also named to the All-Star team on Sunday, went 0- for-3 but is still batting .329 (23-for-70) over his last 18 games with five homers and 16 RBI.