The Braves and the Phillies have two drastically different bullpen situations. So how long Aaron Harang and Roberto Hernandez last on Wednesday could quite easily mean the difference between winning and losing Game 3.
Entering Tuesday night, Philadelphia's relievers have been the best in baseball during the past two weeks, having compiled Major League-leading marks with a 1.39 ERA and a .217 opponents' on-base percentage since June 3.
Two scoreless innings to back up Kyle Kendrick's gem Tuesday provided clear indication that the streak appears primed to continue. Even in the wake of Jonathan Papelbon's blown save on Monday night at Turner Field.
But even those pivotal hits he surrendered were not.
Meanwhile, Atlanta's bullpen has struggled since its recent road trip that began on June 6 in Arizona. The Braves have used at least three relievers in 10 of their past 12 games. The 'pen has pitched at least three frames eight times during that stretch.
"We're hoping this cloud gets a little bigger and bigger," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez joked before Tuesday's game. "But you know what? I think we're fine. If Ervin [Santana] can go out and give us a good outing, we should be OK."
Santana gave Atlanta six frames on Tuesday night and right-hander Pedro Beato, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday, came through in a major way by tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in only his second Major League outing of 2014.
Beato got the call when the Braves placed right-hander David Carpenter on the 15-day disabled list with a right biceps strain. It's a tough break for Atlanta, which just got Jordan Walden back a week ago after he missed more than a month with a left hamstring strain.
Gonzalez also said Tuesday he planned to give long reliever David Hale a couple of days off as he has made five appearances over the past nine games entering Tuesday. He was on the mound for both five-run 13th innings the Braves endured in recent days.
Carpenter, one of several Braves relievers scuffling in June, was frustrated that he could not sort out his recent woes on the mound and is eager to return and help Atlanta's bullpen turn the tide.
"It's just kind of tough," Carpenter said of his injury, "especially seeing how hard some of these guys are playing. You see [Evan] Gattis, you see Gerald [Laird] busting their butt out there every day at a tough position [catcher]. And all we're required to do is go out there and throw a ball. You want to be reliable, you want to be dependable, so you want to go out there and take the ball as many times as you can."
Phillies: Differential difference
Philadelphia entered Tuesday night with a run differential of plus-18, which was the best in the National League and the second best in the Majors since June 6. The Phillies then proceeded to beat the Braves, 5-2, to clinch their first series in Atlanta since taking two out of three games from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, 2012.
The recent success has marked quite a turnaround for the Phils, who sported the worst run differential in baseball at minus-54 on June 5.
Braves: Harang providing quantity of quality
After registering only 12 quality starts in 26 outings last season, Harang has achieved 12 through his first 14 turns this season. He is tied for second in the National League with Reds and Nationals aces Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasburg.
Braves ace Julio Teheran, Harang's teammate, has an NL-best 13 quality starts.
Harang, whose 3.20 ERA is on track to be a career-best mark, also knows how to wield the bat. His eight sacrifice bunts are tied for the Major League lead.
• Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a leadoff double against Ervin Santana on Tuesday night.
• Braves catcher Laird has thrown out 8 of 16 would-be base stealers, giving him a 50 percent success rate that leads the Majors.
• Andrelton Simmons committed two errors on Tuesday night, marking just the second time in his career that has happened.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.