(Sports Network) - Not even a tribute to future Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox could lift the Atlanta Braves to a victory and closer to a playoff berth.
Cox hopes that this won't be his last game this afternoon when his club tries to get into the postseason and salvage the finale of a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
A Braves win and a loss by the San Diego Padres in San Francisco would secure Atlanta its first postseason berth since the 2005 season. However, a loss combined with a San Diego win against San Francisco would end the year and Cox's brilliant career with the Braves.
But, should the Giants lose to the Padres and the Braves, who are tied with San Diego atop the wild card standings, salvage this set with NL East-champion Philly, San Francisco and San Diego will meet Monday in a one-game playoff for the NL West title at Petco Park. The loser would then visit the Braves on Tuesday to decide the final postseason spot in the National League.
San Diego would play the Braves in a one-game playoff to determine the wild card if both clubs lose on Sunday.
The Braves were hammered, 7-0, in Saturday's second portion of the series despite getting five shutout innings from starter Tommy Hanson. However, sloppy field play and an awful bullpen led to the loss, as losing pitcher Jonny Venters allowed four runs - two earned - in 1 1/3 innings and Takashi Saito was reached for two runs later on in defeat.
"We control our own destiny," Venters said. "We just need to come out tomorrow, play hard. I wasn't real good today. I just left some balls over the plate. I was throwing strikes -- I felt good. I was ahead. I was not putting guys away."
The Braves will rest their hopes on Tim Hudson Sunday and he's aiming for 17 wins in a season for just the third time in his career. He is only 1-4 in his last six starts and did not record a decision in Tuesday's 3-2 win versus Florida. Hudson allowed one run and seven hits in six innings to remain at 16-9 in 33 starts to go along with a 2.76 earned run average.
Hudson, who owns a strong 10-5 record in 17 home starts in 2010, beat the Phillies the last time he faced them on June 1 this season at Turner Field. In the 7-3 victory, Hudson held the Phils to a pair of runs in six innings. He is 5-7 in 17 career starts against the NL East rivals.
Philadelphia already locked down the division for a fourth straight year and homefield advantage, and are just tuning up for the postseason. Raul Ibanez had a pair of hits and drove in two runs, while Shane Victorino ended 3-for-5 with an RBI for the Phillies, winners of three in a row.
Cole Hamels hopes a few innings Sunday will get him back in the groove for the postseason after he had a personal five-start winning streak stopped last Sunday versus the New York Mets. The Mets touched Hamels for five runs and nine hits in four innings, sending the lefty to the loss column for the first time since August 19.
Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP, is 12-11 with a 3.09 ERA in 32 starts this season. He is just 5-5 in 14 road outings and defeated Atlanta on Sept. 20 in south Philly with eight innings of one-run ball. Hamels has faced the Braves 18 times in his career -- all starts -- and is 9-5 with a 4.02 ERA.
Philadelphia leads the 2010 series with Atlanta by a 10-7 margin and swept a three-game series the last time these two clubs met from Sept. 20-22 at Citizens Bank Park.