By pulling even in their weekend series in Philadelphia with a 13-4 win on Saturday night, the Braves were able to maintain their NL East lead of five games. Still, with the second-place Nationals finding their stride in the opening days of July, the Braves enter Sunday afternoon's series finale knowing that a loss could leave them protecting their slimmest lead in the division since May 20.
Kris Medlen will get the ball for the Braves looking for more of the run support he received during an 11-3 win over the Marlins on Tuesday night. Medlen scattered nine hits over six innings but was able to limit the damage until the offense caught fire with eight runs from the sixth inning on. That performance matched Atlanta's highest offensive output of the season at the time, and the Braves' bats have stayed hot while totaling 15 runs in the first two games of the Philadelphia series.
"You're going to go out there and not have your best stuff more times than not, honestly," Medlen said after Tuesday's win. "It comes down to heart and relying on your teammates."
The Phillies, who have been treading water since they endured a five-game losing streak that dropped them eight games back of first place on June 12, will turn to 22-year-old rookie Jonathan Pettibone, who has been steady since making his debut on April 22.
Pettibone has surrendered five runs in 17 2/3 innings in his last three outings and has a 2.55 ERA in that span. In his last appearance, the right-hander picked up his first win since May 14 with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a 3-1 win over the Pirates.
"I think a few innings were a little tougher than the others," Pettibone said on Tuesday. "I think in the middle of the game I kind of got in a little streak, which quieted the pitch count a little and let me get through at least five or six, but the first and the last innings were definitely a battle."
After playing a three-month stretch without seeing each other, these two teams will get plenty familiar with each other after the All-Star break, with 13 games scheduled after this weekend.
Braves: Uggla mashing vs. Phillies
Dan Uggla's two-run home run in the second inning on Saturday extended an unmatched run against the Phillies. Since 2006, no player has hit more home runs against the Phillies than Uggla, who hit his 26th and 27th career home runs against Philadelphia in the first two games of the series.
• Tim Hudson allowed one run on five hits over seven innings to earn his first win since May 5 on Saturday, snapping a streak of 10 starts without a win.
Phillies: Howard to DL
Less than 24 hours after drilling a solo home run to right-center in the third inning of Friday night's game, first baseman Ryan Howard found himself on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his left knee.
Howard had been dealing with knee problems since mid-May, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that Howard would undergo an MRI exam on Sunday or Monday to determine whether surgery is necessary.
Darin Ruf was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to fill Howard's roster spot and got into Saturday's game in the eighth inning, going 1-for-2 at the plate with a single and a strikeout.
• Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee were tabbed on Saturday to represent the Phillies at the All-Star Game. Brown, who is hitting .279 with 22 home runs and 60 RBIs, will be making his first appearance in the Midsummer Classic, while Lee is now a four-time All-Star.
Although he faces stiff competition for the honor of being the NL's starting pitcher in the form of division counterparts Matt Harvey and Jordan Zimmerman among others, Lee received a ringing endorsement from his manager before the rosters were officially revealed.
"I think that Cliff should be on the All-Star team, and if [Bruce Bochy] wanted him to start, I think he would be very deserving of that," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Saturday's game. "It's whatever the manager wants."
• Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was selected to his third consecutive All-Star Game, becoming the first Atlanta pitcher to accomplish that feat since 1998.
• In addition to scoring 13 runs for the first time in 2013, the Braves tallied a season-high 19 hits on Saturday, and catcher Brian McCann collected his first four-hit game of the season with a 4-for-5 performance.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.