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Braves begin final road trip of 2008

Braves begin final road trip of 2008

ATLANTA -- Given that there was actually a time when Chipper Jones was worrying about the possibility of a 100-loss season, the Braves probably shouldn't fret too much about the possibility of encountering their first 90-loss season since 1990.

In going 10-9 thus far this month, the Braves have at least put themselves in position to end a forgettable season in respectable fashion. But in order to avoid 90 losses, they'll have to win four of their remaining six games on the road and put an end to their season-long miseries against Philadelphia.

The Braves will begin their final road trip of the season on Monday with the opener of a three-game series against the Phillies, a team they've beaten just twice in 15 opportunities this year. On a positive note, both of those victories came at Citizens Bank Park.

"It would be nice to go up there and get some revenge [against the Phillies]," Jeff Francoeur said. "I know the Mets probably think we're working on a conspiracy against them."

The Braves have some momentum entering the series, having won two of three this past weekend against the Mets, who won just one of nine games at Turner Field this year. As for the Phillies, they won each of the nine games they played in Atlanta this year and have been victorious in 13 of the 15 games played against the Braves.

"You can't explain why the balls fall in against the Mets and not against the Phillies," Jones said. "Sometimes you have to think it's just fate."

Entering the series, the Phillies find themselves in a tight battle with the Mets for the National League East title. But if the playoffs were to begin today, both teams would qualify, with the Phillies winning the division.

As the Braves attempt to reverse their season-long trend against the Phillies, there's a chance they'll have the services of Jones, who was out of the starting lineup the past two games with a sore right shoulder. The veteran third baseman drew an intentional walk while batting left-handed during a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday.

With his shoulder providing him more problems while swinging from the right side of the plate, the switch-hitter will have to make a decision when the Phillies start left-handers J.A. Happ and Cole Hamels during the first two games of this week's series.

With a Major League-leading .362 batting average, Jones doesn't necessarily want to earn his first career batting title while being sidelined during the season's final week. Albert Pujols, who has just two hits in his past 21 at-bats, ranks second in the NL, with a .349 average.

"I want to be out there playing," Jones said, "but I'm not healthy. I can't do what I'm supposed to be doing on the field right now."

Pitching matchup
ATL: RHP Jair Jurrjens (13-10, 3.72 ERA)
Jurrjens surrendered four runs during a 43-pitch first inning against the Phillies on Wednesday, then held them scoreless while needing just 57 pitches to complete his final four framess. The early damage prevented the 22-year-old rookie from winning his third straight start and equal the success he had at Citizens Bank Park on July 25, when allowed three hits in eight scoreless innings against the Phillies. Facing the same lineup for the second time in five days, he will look to be more aggressive in the strike zone and fight the temptation of showing too much respect to specific hitters.

PHI: LHP J.A. Happ (1-0, 4.24 ERA)
Happ will make his second start against Atlanta in five days. The rookie dazzled the Braves with six shutout innings on Wednesday, allowing just three hits, and has a 2.12 ERA in his three starts this season. Manager Charlie Manuel would love an encore.

Jones hit .399 at Turner Field this season, establishing the highest home batting average in Atlanta Braves history. Dion James had held the record, with the .376 mark he produced in 1987. ... Jurrjens and Charlie Morton were among the rookies who had to wear dresses and other outrageous costumes during the team's trip to Philadelphia on Sunday night. When he came into the clubhouse and saw some of the outfits, Jones laughed and said, "Man, am I glad I'm not a rookie." ... Kelly Johnson has batted .417 (30-for-72) during his current 19-game hitting streak. It's the longest current streak in the Majors, and it matches the longest in the NL this season.

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On the Internet
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•  Official game notes

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On radio
• WGST 640, 94.9 FM

Up next
• Tuesday: Braves (Jo-Jo Reyes, 3-11, 5.74) at Phillies (Cole Hamels, 14-9, 3.10), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Braves (TBD) at Phillies (Brett Myers, 10-12, 4.46), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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