The Atlanta Braves' starting pitching has dazzled so far this season in unexpected fashion after entering the year with a list of substantial injuries.
The bullpen, which played a key role in their 2013 NL East title and is largely intact, hasn't followed suit.
That hasn't stopped the Braves from winning four straight, a streak they'll try to extend Tuesday night in the second of a four-game road set against the Philadelphia Phillies.
After Atlanta took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth Monday, Luis Avilan gave up five runs, with Domonic Brown's three-run homer the big blow. The Braves (9-4), however, came back to win 9-6 on Dan Uggla's grand slam in the ninth.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez knows Citizens Bank Park isn't the place for any pitcher to be missing his spots.
"If you make a mistake, it's in the seats," Gonzalez said after a game that featured seven homers -- two apiece by Uggla and catcher Evan Gattis.
Despite another victory, Gonzalez may have some issues in his bullpen, which has a collective 4.75 ERA. Atlanta relievers led the majors with a 2.46 ERA in 2013, but they've now yielded at least one earned run in seven straight games -- something they hadn't done since April 29-May 5, 2012.
The Phillies' bullpen has been even worse, with a 5.53 ERA this season and seven home runs surrendered in the past 26 2/3 innings. It should get a little better Tuesday, as Mike Adams -- who last pitched in the majors in June before undergoing shoulder surgery -- will be activated from the 15-day disabled list.
After taking advantage of Philadelphia's relief corps Monday, the Braves' offense continues to enjoy a nice run. Atlanta has homered multiple times in five straight games -- totaling 14 -- and it's scored 32 runs during the winning streak.
Gattis, Uggla and shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit back-to-back-to-back homers in the eighth.
"We have a lot of guys who can change the game with one swing," Uggla said. "Tonight we were able to put some at-bats together."
Hale (0-0, 2.89 ERA) hasn't made it more than five innings in either of his first two starts. The right-hander allowed four runs on five hits with five walks in 4 1/3 innings of a 6-4 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday.
The Phillies (6-7), however, are the lone team he's beaten in his four major league starts. He yielded a run in six innings without a walk against visiting Philadelphia on Sept. 26 in a 7-1 win.
He'll be opposed by Cliff Lee (2-1, 5.50), who has been quite hittable in his first three starts. Opponents are batting .358 against the left-hander after he gave up eight hits and three runs in six innings of Thursday's 6-2 loss at Milwaukee.
He's been considerably more effective when facing the Braves. Lee is 6-3 with a 1.60 ERA and .188 opponents' batting average in his last 10 starts against them.
Jason Heyward is 3 for 22 against Lee while Simmons is 3 for 16.
Chris Johnson has homered twice off Lee in 23 at-bats, but he was out of the lineup for a second straight day Monday. Gonzalez maintained his third baseman isn't injured, saying he'd play the rest of the series.
Tony Gwynn Jr. has started four straight games for the Phillies, leading off and playing center field in each. He's 6 for 14 in the last three after having only 11 plate appearances in Philadelphia's first 10 games.