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First-place Phils aim for another win over Braves

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(Betting Express) - The Philadelphia Phillies will try to inch closer to a playoff spot and best the Atlanta Braves for a seventh straight time tonight, when the two clubs resume a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

Philadelphia defeated the Braves for a sixth straight time with a 6-2 victory, Monday, improving to 14-2 versus Atlanta this year. The Phillies' magic number to clinch their second straight National League East title fell to four after the New York Mets' loss to Chicago last night, while their magic number to secure a playoff berth fell to three.

The Phillies lead the division by 2 1/2 games over the Mets.

Philly hasn't made the postseason in back-to-back campaigns since it followed up its lone World Series Championship in 1980 by losing the 1981 NLDS to the Montreal Expos in five games.

In Monday's win, pinch-runner Greg Golson scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Pat Burrell added a three-run homer later in the frame during the four-run victory, the Phillies' third in a row and 10th in their last 11 games.

Philadelphia's Shane Victorino had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, and is batting .488 (21-for-43) over the streak.

Kelly Johnson paced the Braves' offense with a two-run homer and a triple, running his hitting streak to a career-best and NL season-high 20 games. Johnson is hitting .449 (32-for-78) on the run with three homers, 17 RBI and 15 runs scored.

He'll try to continue his hit streak tonight against Cole Hamels, who has pitched very well against the Braves this year.

The 24-year-old defeated Atlanta on Thursday after holding the club to two runs on six hits over six innings, improving to 3-0 with a 2.30 earned run average in four starts versus the Braves this year. Lifetime against Atlanta, Hamels is 6-2 with a 3.55 ERA and a shutout in 10 starts.

The left-hander's victory on Thursday pushed his season mark to 14-9 with a 3.10 ERA, and Hamels leads the NL with 220 1/3 innings pitched this year.

The Braves counter with Mike Hampton, who will try to avoid a second straight loss to the Phillies.

Hampton is 0-2 over his last six starts, having not won since August 16, and was defeated by Philadelphia on Thursday after allowing four runs (2 earned) on six hits over seven innings of work.

The 36-year-old lefty is 2-3 with a 5.05 ERA in 11 starts this year and 10-8 with a 3.27 ERA in 31 games (28 starts) lifetime versus the Phils.

September 23, 2008, at 10:45 AM ET
<-- Diamondbacks resume set with Cardinals
Feeling blue: Dodgers aim to rebound against Padres -->

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Giants send Lincecum to hill versus Rockies
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