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Phillies like matchups with either NLCS foe

Phillies like matchups with either NLCS foe

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies made quick, historic work of the Cincinnati Reds to improve TBS' ratings for the rest of the Division Series.

Because the Phils will now do like the rest of the nation: Unwind, lean back and watch the rest of the other NL Division Series, to learn who will be their opposition in the NL Championship Series that begins Saturday night in Citizens Bank Park.

It will be either the Giants, who lead that series 2-1 after their ninth-inning comeback on Sunday, or, if they fully recover from that Game 3 stunner, the Braves.

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The Phillies have other things on their minds -- and in their wet hairs -- than looking forward to the next level with preference.

Yet the Phillies recognized a significant difference between their two potential Championship Series opponents: familiarity.

Typically, the Phillies play the West Division's Giants a half-dozen times.


But they and the Braves meet 18 times every season -- and the first all-NL East Championship Series since 1999 (the Mets and the Braves) could come with some comfort level.

"We have seen the Braves more and are more familiar with them," said second baseman Chase Utley. "But, at the same time, the Giants are very similar to the Braves. Both teams are obviously very good."

The Phillies split their six regular-season games with the Giants, and held a slight (10-8) advantage over the Braves.

The season series with Atlanta featured home three-game sweeps by both teams: The Phillies were swept in Atlanta on May 31-June 2, and returned the favor on Sept. 20-22 in Philly.

The latter encounter may be interpreted as more significant, not only because it was more recent but also because it came with the teams still fighting for the division title heading down to the wire.

The Braves arrived in Philadelphia a mere three games out of the lead -- and were dismissed, being held to four runs in the three losses.

That should sound familiar to the Reds -- who got only four runs and 11 hits in their three losses.

Obviously, the Phillies matched up very well with the Reds.

"With our pitching and our lineup, we match up well against anybody," said outfielder Jayson Werth. "We feel confident whoever we face the rest of the way.

"Don't get me wrong -- we still have to play the games and win them. But we are where we need to be."

A Championship Series meeting with the Giants would offer an appetizing slate of potential pitching matchups. The Division Series rotations of both teams have been absolutely lights-out.

For the Phillies, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels combined to allow 10 hits and three earned runs in 23 innings, with a 22-to-2 strikeouts-to-walks ratio.

The Giants' Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez have been even better, allowing two earned runs and 11 hits in the same 23 innings -- while striking out 31 and walking two.

In addition to a shot at the Giants-Braves survivor, Sunday night's victory also brought the Phillies a challenge: staying sharp through another five-day lull.

Because of their choice of the eight-day Division Series format and their economic dismissal of the Reds, the Phillies will have three games in 13 days under their belts when they return to the field for the NLCS opener.

That is a problem Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was contemplating even before Sunday night's game began.

"We were talking about it just a minute ago," Manuel had said, "that if we win, we're going to get a lot of rest. But we still like the idea of picking the eight-day playoff because we like the way our pitching is going to run."

What was there not to like?

Tom Singer 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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