The Braves continue to surge away from the pack in the National League East, and they'll be going for a third consecutive series sweep when they take on the Phillies on Sunday night in the finale of the set between teams headed different directions.
Atlanta has won nine straight and 10 of its last 11 while Philadelphia has lost four straight and 12 of its last 13 as the two teams square off in the finale. It'll be veteran Cliff Lee coming off a layoff of two weeks for the Phillies and Braves rookie Alex Wood finally working in a normal starting routine in a battle of left-handers.
Lee, who made his fourth All-Star appearance last month, has been sidelined with a stiff neck since making a start against the Mets on July 21, allowing three homers in that one. Combined with allowing four in his previous start against the Nationals, Lee allowed seven homers in those two outings -- after allowing nine in his first 18 starts.
In the interim, Lee's name came up in some trade rumors before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, although general manager Ruben Amaro said the Phillies had "very little" discussions about the veteran lefty.
"To be frank, we would have to be snowballed, someone would have had to bowl us over to do something on Cliff," Amaro said. "He's a top-of-the-rotation [guy] who would be very difficult to replace."
Wood, meanwhile, finally can get into a groove as a starter with his second straight assignment on normal rest. Drafted out of the University of Georgia just last year, the Braves have liked what they've seen out of Wood, although his work has been sporadic.
Wood had a bothersome cuticle on his left index finger that led him to abandon his curveball in the second inning of his last outing, but after the finger was fixed before the third inning, he retired 14 of the last 17 Rockies he faced to earn his first victory.
"He went to his changeup and started pounding his fastball in, and then later on, which was a nice sign, he came back to the curveball. It was a nice outing by him," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Braves: Johnson's multihit streak ends
Chris Johnson saw his streak of multihit games end at eight Saturday, going 0-for-3 with two walks. Johnson, who has 37 multihit games on the season, had the team's longest streak of multihit games since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Johnson had gone 21-for-44 (.477) in hitting in 11 consecutive games before taking the oh-fer on Saturday.
• Another streak is over for the Braves: they didn't score five runs in an inning Saturday. When the Braves scored five runs in the fifth inning Friday night, it marked the fifth straight game with an inning of five or more runs, becoming only the fourth team to do that, according to Elias Sports Bureau. They followed the 1920 Indians, 1929 Cubs and 2007 Tigers.
Phillies: Ruf keeps rolling
Phillies outfielder Darin Ruf ran his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely to 31 on Saturday with a single in the second inning, extending the longest active streak in the Majors.
Ruf, who scored a run on John Mayberry Jr.'s homer after his single, has the Phillies' longest streak of reaching safely since Chase Utley went for 33 games from Sept. 7, 2008 to April 22, 2009. Ruf's streak dates back to last season and restarted when he was recalled from Triple-A on July 6.
• With Saturday's loss, the Phillies have lost five consecutive series, that after winning four consecutive ending with taking two of three against the White Sox before All-Star break.
• With the Braves taking a 5-3 lead in the season series with the Phillies, they also moved above .500 at Citizens Bank Park all time, at 44-43.
• The two teams won't have to wait long to meet again, with a three-game series set for Aug. 12-14 at Atlanta.
• After Sunday night's finale, the Phillies have Monday off before hosting the Cubs for a three-game set starting Tuesday, while the Braves continue their six-game road trip with three at Washington, starting Monday, followed by their first off-day of the second half on Thursday.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.