10/02/10 5:25 PM ET
Braves must win, then watch scoreboard
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
Talk about a Game 162 with coast-to-coast consequences.
It comes down to the wire Sunday for the Braves, who are in danger of being swept at home with a playoff berth on the line in Bobby Cox's final season as manager -- despite having baseball's best home record.
"We need to come out tomorrow, hold our heads up and hopefully play better," Atlanta infielder Brooks Conrad said.
The scenarios for the final two National League playoff spots play out like this:
If both the Padres and Braves win Sunday, there will be a three-team, two-game tiebreaker for the first time in MLB history. The Giants and Padres will play a one-game tiebreaker Monday in San Diego to determine the National League West winner. The loser of that game will meet the Braves in Atlanta on Tuesday for the NL Wild Card.
If the Padres win and the Braves lose, San Diego gets the NL West title and the Giants are the Wild Card team, knocking the Braves out of playoff contention.
If the Padres lose and the Braves win, the Braves will take the Wild Card and the Giants will win the West.
If both the Padres and Braves lose, the two teams will have a one-game tiebreaker in Atlanta for the Wild Card.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have already clinched their fourth straight NL East title, a feat the Braves can relate to. It's the longest streak for a NL team since Atlanta won 14 consecutive division titles.
The Phils will take on Braves hurler Tim Hudson, who will take his second shot at win No. 17. He'll likely finish with a sub-3.00 ERA for the first time since 2003, and has the opportunity to push Atlanta into the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
"Whoever we have on the mound [Sunday] has to go out and battle for us," Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. "We have no doubt that he will."
Phillies: Hamels and Oswalt to tag-team Braves on Sunday
Sunday's regular-season finale will be the final tuneup for Phillies starters Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. And though it'll be an unorthodox approach for the Phillies, it won't be a walk in the park for the Braves.
Hamels is expected to start the game, with Oswalt coming in for relief. In his last time out, last Sunday against the Mets, Hamels was roughed up to the tune of nine hits and five runs in four innings. It snapped a personal four-game winning streak for Hamels, who lost his cool in the fourth when a strike call didn't go the way he hoped.
"It was frustrating, but I have to go out and get the next guy," Hamels said after the game. "You can go out and get a double play. You can't put that [frustration] on the next pitch. You have to just kind of clear your head and go out and get the next guy."
Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.65 ERA since coming to Philadelphia from Houston, and he has not lost since July 30. He took a no-decision in his only start against the Braves this year, throwing seven innings of one-hit ball in a game the Phillies eventually won, 1-0.
Hamels is 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA against the Braves in four starts this season.
Braves: Cox makes more history
With 90 wins, Cox has become just the third manager in Major League history to win so many games 15 times in a career. John McGraw did it 16 times and Joe McCarthy did it 15 times, as well. ... The last time the Braves won 55 home games was 2003, when they went 55-26. The franchise record for home wins in a season came in back-to-back years in 1998-99, when the Braves went 56-25. ... Atlanta is 58-57 against the Phillies at Turner Field.
The Phillies have won 23 of their last 29 games, dating back to Sept. 1. They have the best record in baseball (96-64, .600), two games ahead of the Yankees pending New York's nightcap Saturday. ... Philadelphia's total of 97 wins is a career best for manager Charlie Manuel, and is also the most for the Phillies since 1993, when the club also won 97 games (97-65, .599). ... Manuel joins Danny Ozark (1976-78) as the second manager in Phillies franchise history to lead the club to three straight 90-win seasons. ... Atlanta is 5-40 in games in which it scores two or fewer runs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.