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Preview: Braves at Phillies

(Sports Network) – The top of the National League East got a little tighter after the Phillies took yesterday’s opener of a three-game series with the first-place Braves.

Philadelphia will try to inch a little closer to the top spot tonight with a second straight win over visiting Atlanta at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies, losers in four of five heading into Monday’s opener, pulled within four games of the Braves after claiming a 3-1 victory on Monday. Roy Halladay won his 10th game of the season with his seventh complete game of 2010, allowing just Chipper Jones’ solo homer in the first inning.

“As the game progressed, you realize it’s going to be a close game,” Halladay said of recovering after Jones’ homer. “It’s like a lot of them — you’re trying to minimize as much as you can and stay ahead in the count.”

Halladay, who lowered his earned run average to 2.33 after his 56th career complete game, seemed like he might be in line for another tough-luck loss until Greg Dobbs hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning. Juan Castro added an RBI single in the eighth for the Phillies, who have split 10 overall meetings with the Braves this year but have taken three of the four played at home.

Derek Lowe took the loss despite allowing just the two runs over seven innings for the Braves, who have dropped four straight on the road and are just 18-25 as the guest this year compared to 30-10 at home. They lead the second-place Mets by two games in the NL East standings.

“We’re playing solid baseball,” Jones said. “We’ve got some injures right now, as they do. Everybody’s got injuries. We just need to tread water until after the break, get healthy and take it the rest of the way.”

Atlanta played without Troy Glaus, Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth on Monday, while Philadelphia is minus Carlos Ruiz, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley and Brian Schneider. Glaus and Schneider could return this evening for their respective clubs.

Jair Jurrjens will make his second start for the Braves since returning from a strained left hamstring that sidelined him for two months. Pitching for the first time since April 29, the right-hander yielded just a run on six hits and two walks over five innings of a victory on Wednesday versus Washington. Jurrjens threw 56 of his 86 pitches for strikes and improved to 1-3 on the season with a 5.59 ERA.

“I felt really good, really strong,” Jurrjens said. “I got my command and was able to hit my spots when I wanted to. I think that was the whole key to the game.”

The 24-year-old is 3-3 with a 2.35 ERA in eight career starts versus the Phillies, who counter with struggling lefty Cole Hamels.

The 26-year-old has lost consecutive starts and five of his last six decisions, posting a 5.50 ERA over his last three outings. He pitched decent versus the Pirates on Thursday, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings, striking out eight in a 3-2 defeat. He also didn’t allow a home run for the first time in six starts.

Hamels is 6-7 with a 4.07 ERA on the season and has faced the Braves twice this year. He beat them on May 9 despite allowing three runs on eight hits and four walks over just five innings, then took a loss to them in a rain- shortened outing on June 1. Hamels allowed a three-run homer to Glaus and pitched just two-thirds of an inning due to the delay for the shortest outing of his career.

In 16 career starts versus the Braves, the southpaw is 8-5 with a 4.28 ERA.