This isn't where the Phillies wanted to be with two months left in the season.
Just a few weeks ago, Philadelphia thought its weekend series against the Braves would be the boost it needed to make a move in the National League East. Instead, the Phillies sit 13 1/2 games back of Atlanta.
Losers of 10 of their last 11 games, the Phillies will try to start off on the right foot in Friday's series opener against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park.
Ethan Martin will make his Major League debut for the Phillies, hoping to beat the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in Athens, Ga.
"I really didn't have a clue. I called my parents and told them I was being called up. My mom actually called about 30 minutes later, and she goes, 'Do you realize who you're pitching against?' I go, 'No, not really.' She goes, 'The Braves.' I said, 'Oh wow, that's going to be sweet.'
"I don't really think it's set in yet. Hopefully, it doesn't until afterward. But we'll go from there, walk out on the mound and see how it goes."
Rated as the Phillies 10th best prospect in MLB.com's midseason rankings, the right-hander is 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 Minor League starts this season.
Meanwhile, the Braves are sitting pretty with Kris Medlen set to take the hill and reverse his fortunes at Citizens Bank Park. In five appearances (three starts) in Philadelphia, Medlen has a 6.05 ERA, most recently allowing six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings on July 7.
Thanks to improved mechanics during his last start against the Cardinals, Medlen snapped a three-game losing streak, allowing two runs on eight hits in six innings for his seventh win of the season. Before that, he'd had a tough July with a 1-3 record and 7.40 ERA in four starts.
Medlen said his success came from keeping the ball down and not thinking too much.
"I think when I can locate away to righties and lefties, it opens up the inside because then you have them thinking which way you're going to go," Medlen said. "It's just the chess game that you play as a pitcher."
Braves: B.J. Upton plays in first rehab game
B.J. Upton went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his first rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday. He'll play in two more games before rejoining the Braves.
"I got a little sideline [update] from [Gwinnett manager] Randy Ready, and the at-bats were OK," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "For the first time in two weeks facing live pitching, the at-bats were good."
Upton has been sidelined since July 12 with a right adductor muscle strain after diving for a line drive in the outfield. He tracked down four fly balls over five innings in center during Gwinnett's 2-1 loss.
"The No. 1 thing for us is to make sure he's healthy and make sure he's ready to come back, that's the No. 1 thing," Gonzalez said. "When all those things are in place, then we'll figure something out. Something will happen, you know how that is."
Phillies: Brown planning to return next week
While Domonic Brown missed his eighth consecutive game on Thursday due to a concussion, the Phillies left fielder plans to be back on the field next week.
Brown sustained a concussion July 23 when he dove for a fly ball against the Cardinals. He said he hasn't had symptoms for the past four days and has passed every test needed to get back on the field.
Brown, who leads the Phillies with 24 home runs and 69 RBIs, took about 60 swings in the batting cage and made a few throws on the field Thursday.
"I'm not missing that much time," Brown said. "And I feel great, that's the biggest thing."
• Outfielder Steve Susdorf, whom the Phillies designated for assignment Monday, cleared waivers and was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday.
• Since moving into the leadoff role in the Braves lineup, Jason Heyward is 8-for-24 with two home runs and seven RBIs.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.