Schilling faces Smoltz in classic battle

Schilling faces Smoltz in classic battle

The rubber match has been a long time coming for Curt Schilling and John Smoltz, two of the best big-game pitchers of this era. Talk about a matchup fit for the stage of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

Despite all the time they spent together in the National League, Schilling and Smoltz have faced off just twice. Schilling led the Phillies to a 4-1 victory over Smoltz and the Braves on June 3, 1992. Smoltz returned the favor of June 28, 1997, routing Schilling and the Phils, 9-1.

Now, they meet again, just under nine years removed from their last matchup. Schilling is two teams removed, now serving as the ace of the Red Sox at the age of 39.

As much as Sox manager Terry Francona enjoys a good pitching matchup, he wouldn't complain if Sunday's game ends up being one-sided.

"I wish it was Schilling and Smoltz's son," quipped Francona. "They'll both be revved up. It should be a very good game."

This is the second hyped matchup in a row for Schilling, who matched zeroes with Johan Santana at the Metrodome five days ago. Schilling and Santana both took no-decisions in that one, a game the Twins won in extra innings.

The Red Sox have been leaning heavily on Schilling of late, and this time they hope he can lead them to a three-game sweep in this series, which would allow the Sox to break even in the final game of this six-game road trip.

The national television audience, and those who have tickets at Turner Field, should savor this matchup. Consider all Schilling (201-133, 3.41 ERA, 2,914 Ks) and Smoltz (181-133, 3.27, 2,647 Ks) have done in their respective careers. Smoltz is 15-4 lifetime in the postseason with one World Series ring, while Schilling is 8-2 with two World Series rings.

"It's going to be fun, it really is," said Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett. "I think Smoltzy is coming in on 200 wins, isn't he? It's basically watching two 200-game winners, because eventually he's going to get there."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Curt Schilling (9-2, 3.59 ERA)
Schilling will look to become the first 10-game winner in the Majors after not factoring into the decision in his last start against Minnesota on Tuesday. Schilling pitched eight innings, allowing six hits and one run. He exited with the game tied, 1-1 after tossing 91 pitches.

ATL: RHP John Smoltz (4-5, 3.78 ERA)
Smoltz's struggles to get run support continued in his last start against the Marlins. Smoltz pitched six efficient innings, allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts, but the Braves lineup was only able to manage one run and stranded nine baserunners. Smoltz is 1-0 with four saves in his career against the Red Sox.

Player to watch
Left fielder Manny Ramirez, who missed Saturday's game with soreness in his right knee, is expected to come back for this one. He's hitless in his last 17 at-bats.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WEEI 850 AM, WROL 950 AM (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Red Sox (TBA) vs. Nationals (RHP Tony Armas, 6-3, 4.18), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Red Sox (RHP Tim Wakefield, 4-8, 3.97) vs. Nationals (RHP Livan Hernandez, 5-7, 5.18), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Red Sox (LHP Jon Lester, 1-0, 3.48) vs. Nationals (RHP Shawn Hill, 1-1, 2.42), 7:05 p.m. ET

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.