Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
- Philadelphia missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last season, finishing at an even 81-81. The Phillies were one of the National League's better teams after the All-Star break, going 44-31 (.587) -- fifth best in the NL.
- Atlanta's 94 wins last year were its most since winning 96 games in 2004, while its 3.42 team ERA was its best since 2002 (3.13). From September 1 to the end of the regular season, the Braves went 20-10, tied for the best record in the majors (San Francisco).
- Cole Hamels is hoping to continue what was a strong finish to the 2012 season, during which he went 6-0 with a 2.58 ERA over his last 10 starts, including a pair of complete-game shutouts. He has struck out at least four batters in 34 straight starts, the longest active streak in the majors.
- Among pitchers with at least 300 decisions (entering this season), Tim Hudson's career winning percentage of .654 (197-104) ranks seventh in MLB history, behind Whitey Ford (.690), Bob Caruthers (.689), Pedro Martinez (.687), Lefty Grove (.680), Christy Mathewson (.665) and Roger Clemens (.658).
- New Philadelphia acquisition Michael Young has had at least 150 hits in 11 straight seasons, the fourth-longest active streak in baseball (Derek Jeter, 17; Albert Pujols, 12; Ichiro Suzuki, 12). Young and Ichiro are the only players with 7000+ at-bats since the 2002 season.
- New Brave B.J. Upton was one of three MLB players with 25+ home runs and 25+ steals last season, along with Ryan Braun of Milwaukee and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. He was the first player in Tampa Bay history to accomplish the feat.
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By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies are hoping Roy Halladay will rebound from one of his worst seasons. Getting through the Atlanta Braves' power-laden lineup would be a great start.
Halladay goes for win No. 200 on Wednesday night when the Braves try to build off an impressive season-opening victory.
For the first time since Halladay arrived in Philadelphia for the 2010 season, major questions abound over how he's going to perform. Going 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 2012 and missing seven weeks with a strained right lat muscle helped create that doubt - as did a rough spring training in which he posted a 6.06 ERA in six outings.
"I think a lot of people are kind of anxious and anticipating to see Doc go out there," first baseman Ryan Howard told the Phillies' official website. "We'll just try to go out there and get the 'W.'"
The Phillies couldn't do that Monday behind Cole Hamels, as Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and newcomer Justin Upton homered in the Braves' 7-5 victory. Atlanta picked up where it left off in spring training, during which it hit a major league-best 49 homers - seven from Freeman.
"Hopefully, that is just the beginning," the first baseman told the Braves' official website following his three-hit, three-RBI night. "We've got a very balanced lineup one through eight. It's going to be tough for pitchers to get through us."
Halladay has struggled to do that lately, going 0-3 with a 7.44 ERA in his last six starts against Atlanta. The right-hander went 0-2 with an 11.21 ERA versus the Braves last year.
Freeman was 4 for 8 with two home runs off Halladay in those games.
New Braves center fielder B.J. Upton is a .357 hitter (15 for 42) with a homer and four doubles against Halladay, while Uggla has 11 hits - three homers - in 34 at-bats off Halladay.
Paul Maholm wasn't very good the last time he faced Philadelphia, an 8-7 Atlanta victory Sept. 2 in which he gave up a season-high seven runs in two innings. The left-hander, however, did not yield an earned run in his last 20 1/3 spring training innings.
"You want to get off on the right foot. I know last year I got shelled in two straight starts to begin (2012)," Maholm told the Braves' official website. "No matter if you throw a shutout or get bombed, you've got to take it like you've got 30-plus starts and you'll have good ones and bad ones. You've got the itch to get out there and see where you're at."
Maholm (13-11, 3.67) went 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs on July 30.
Second baseman Chase Utley, 6 for 18 with three doubles and a home run off Maholm, went 3 for 5 with his 200th homer Monday. The rest of the Phillies' infield of Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young were a combined 1 for 12.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson, platooning with Juan Francisco in the first year of the post-Chipper Jones era, went 2 for 3 with a run.
Updated April 2, 2013