Behind Pat Burrell’s three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning and the solid pitching of rookie J.A. Happ and the bullpen, the Phillies have defeated the Braves, 6-2, cutting their magic number to get into the post-season down to one and to win the National League East down to four. Their lead in the East has increased to two and a half games as the Mets are unable to stop the Cubs. The Phillies took a quick 1-0 lead in the first as Chase Utley, with a runner on second and no one out, would hit a RBI double, knocking in Jimmy Rollins who has earlier doubled. The RBI would be the 100th of the season for Utley, the only Phil, other than Ryan Howard, to knock in so many runs. The Phillies would increase their lead to 2-0 in the second, as, with a runner on third and one out, Carlos Ruiz would hit into a ground out, second to first, scoring Shane Victorino, who has earlier singled, would move up to second on Pedro Feliz’s ground out, 6-3, and would go to third on Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens’ wild pitch. The score would remain 2-0 for the next three innings as a pitchers’ duel developed between Jurrjens, who was able to slow down the Phillies’ offernse after the second inning and Phils’ starter J.A. Happ, who would be almost unhitable to the Braves’ offense, who would only be able to get two hits and a walk off of him through the first five innings. Sadly, that would come to an end in the sixth, as, with a runner on first and one man out, Kelly Johnson, would tie up the ballgame at 2-2 as he would slug an 0-1 slider, that was high in the strike zone, into the right field seats, scoring Matin Prado, who has earlier walked. One inning later, the Braves would threaten to take the lead, as with one out, Brent Lillibridge would get on base with a single to left. Jurrjens would then move him over to second with a sacrifice bunt, for the inning’s second out. Charlie Manuel would then come out of the dugout and take out Happ and replace him with Rudy Seanez, to face pinch hitter Greg Norton, who was pinch hitting for the originally announced pinch hitter, Yunel Escobar, who in turned was to pinch hit for Josh Anderson. Seanez would proceed to intentionally walk Norton, putting runners on first and second. Seanez would then get the next batter, Prado, to hit into a force out, 6-4, putting out Norton at second, for the final out of the inning. The Braves would then try again in the eighth, as Johnson would lead off the inning with a double, and then would go to third on Victorino’s fielding error. Seanez would then get Omar Infante to line out to Rollins for the inning’s first out. The next batter, Jeff Francoeur, would then hit a fielder’s choice ground ball to Rollins, who would quickly throw home, cutting down Johnson, as Ruiz blocks the plate and tags him out, for the second out of the inning, while Francoeur would be safe on first. After Manuel takes out Seanez and replaces him with Scott Eyre, Eyre would get Casey Kotchman to fly out to left for the inning’s final out. The Phillies would then retake the lead in their half of the eighth, as pinch hitter Greg Dobbs would get a pinch single off of Braves’ reliever Jeff Bennett. After Dobbs is replaced at first base by pinch runner Greg Golson, the Braves would try to pick Golson off at first. It didn’t work as Bennett would commit a throwing error, as the ball would get past Braves’ first baseman Kotchman, which would allow Golson to go from first to third. After Rollins would ground out for the inning’s first out, Utley would be intentionally walked, bringing up Jayson Werth. Werth would hit a sharp grounder to Braves’ third baseman Prado, who would then throw home in an attempt to cut down Golson. It wouldn’t work, as Golson was off on the crack of the bat, beating Braves’ catcher Clint Sammons’ tag, and scoring the go ahead run as the Phillies took a 3-2 lead, while Utley would go on to second and Werth would reach first on the fielder’s choice. Bobby Cox would then come to the mound and replace Bennett with Will Ohman. After Howard flies out for the second out of the inning, Ohman would be replaced by Julian Tavarez to pitch to Pat Burrell. With the count going to 3-1, Burrell would hit a Tavarez’s fastball into the left field seats for a three-run home run, his thirty-third home run of the year, scoring both Utley and Werth, and giving the Phillies a 6-2 lead. After Victorino follows with a triple, Tavarez would finally end the inning by getting Feliz to fly out to left. The Phillies would then hand the ball over to Ryan Madson. After Madson gets pinch hitter Ruben Gotay to fly out for the inning’s first out, he would give up a pinch single to pinch hitter Chipper Jones. Pinch hitter Brian McCann would then follow him with a deep fly ball to left that would go out of the park, but would be declared a double by the third base umpire Chad Fairchild who would claim that the ball has landed under the yellow line, making it a double and not a home run. A later umpires’ conference would uphold Fairchild’s call, as does instant reply, thus leaving the Braves with runners on second and third with one out and not a two-run homer for McCann. Madson would then buckle down and get Gregor Blanco to fly out to left for the second out of the inning, and then get Prado to ground out, 4-3, to end the game and preserve the win.
J.A. Happ would get a no-decision as he pitches a strong six and two-thirds innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, striking out five while walking only two. Rudy Seanez would pitch a scoreless inning of relief, giving up only one hit and walking a batter. Scott Eyre would get the win as he pitches a third of an inning, giving up no runs and no hits. His record is now 5-0 (3-0 with the Phils) with an ERA of 4.30. Ryan Madson would also pitch a scoreless inning, giving up only two hits. Jair Jurrjens would also get a no-decision as he pitches seven innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and a walk. Jeff Bennett would get the lost as he pitches a third of an inning, giving up three earned runs on a hit and a walk. His record is now 3-7 with an ERA of 3.86. Will Ohman would also pitch a third of an inning, getting out the only man that he would face. Julian Tavarez would also go a third of an inning, giving up an earned run on two hits.
The Phillies would score two early runs, which J.A. Happ would hold onto brillantly until he gives up the two-run home run to Kelly Johnson in the sixth. The Phillies offense would then go back to work in the bottom of the eighth, scoring four unanswered runs, with the big blow being Pat Burrell’s three-run shot. The go ahead run that Greg Golson would score on the crack of the bat, would be his first run scored in a major league game. The bullpen would then come in and pitch two and a third innings of shut out ball, although Madson almost gave up a two-run home run to pinch hitter Brian McCann, except that the ball would drop into the seats below the yellow line under the railing in left, as confirmed later by instant replay. The Phillies are now on a roll, having won ten of their last eleven games, as they reached a season high twenty-one games over .500, the highest since their pennant winning year of 1993. The Phillies are now one game away from 90 wins, and need just one more game to guarantee a return to the playoffs.
The Phillies (89-68) will continue their series with the fourth place Braves (69-86) with a game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound their ace Cole Hamels (14-9, 3.10), who is coming off a win against the Braves on September 18, as he went six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 4-3 win. Hamel will be trying for his fifteenth win of the year while trying to secure the playoff spot for the Phillies with a good outing tonight. The Braves’ starter will be Mike Hampton (2-3, 5.05), who is coming off a lost to the Phillies on September 18, as he would go seven innings, giving up four runs, only two of which were earned, in the Braves’ 4-3 lost. This is his third start against the Phillies, sporting an 0-1 record, with a no-decision. He will be trying to hold off the Phillies running into the playoff for one more night.
The Phillies are now leading the Mets by two and a half games, thanks to the Mets lost to the Cubs. The magic number to win the National League East is now at four. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets’ lead over the Brewers is now at a game, as the Brewers were idle last night, while it is at three and a half games over Houston, who were also idle last night. The Phillies will be trying to win tonight’s game to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, while trying to see if they can get Cole Hamels his fifteenth win of the season.
Adam Eaton finally gets his third win of the year as the Phillies defeat the Braves once again in their home ballpark, 7-3. The Phillies would score their first run of the game in the second inning, as Pedro Feliz (ground rule) and Chris Coste would hit back to back doubles to score Feliz and give the Phillies a quick 1-0 lead. The Phillies would try to make 2-0 when Coste would be sent home in an attempt to score on an Eaton single to left. Unfortunately, a strike to home from left fielder Gregor Blanco, and a tag by catcher Brain McCann, would instead end the inning and leave it 1-0 Phillies. The Phillies would add to their lead in the third as Ryan Howard would hit his twenty-first home run of the year, a three-run shot, scoring Jimmy Rollins, who has earlier singled, and Chase Utley, who has walked, to make it 4-0 Phillies. They would increase their lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth as Pat Burrell would hit a solo home run into left field, his twenty-first home of the year. The Braves would cut the lead down to 5-1 in their half of the fifth when pinch hitter Ruben Gotay would hit his second home run of the season. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Braves would try to get back into the ballgame, loading the bases with a double by Mark Teixeira, a walk to McCann and a single to Kelly Johnson, with nobody out. That would be it for Adam Eaton, who had pitched a good game up to that point. Charlie Manuel would replace him on the mound with Chad Durbin. This would turn out to be a brilliant move as Durbin would get the first batter that he would face, the badly slumping Jeff Francoeur, to hit into a 6-4-3 twin killing, wiping out Johnson at second, while bringing home Teixeira, making it 5-2 Phillies. Durbin would then end the threat by striking out Mark Kotsay. The Braves would get another run in the eighth inning, as Chipper Jones hits his seventeenth home run of the year, a solo shot to center, making it a 5-3 game. The Phillies would then put the game away in the ninth, as they increased their lead. Eric Bruntlett would starts things off with a walk. After Bobby Cox sends out Royce Ring in place of Blaine Boyer, Rollins would greet him with a RBI triple, scoring Bruntlett, and increasing the Phillies’ lead to 6-3. Two batters later, with Rollins still on third and one out, Utley would knock him in with a single, making it 7-3 Phils. That would turn out to be the ballgame, as Brad Lidge would come in and pitch a scoreless ninth, in spite of the Braves loading up the bases, thanks in part to two fielding errors committed by Howard, as Lidge would end the game by striking out Teixeira.
Adam Eaton would get the win, as he pitch well for six innings plus three batters, giving up only two earned runs on five scattered hits. His record is now 3-6 with a ERA of 4.79. Chad Durbin would pitch two innings, giving up no runs on no hits. J.C. Romero would pitch two-thirds of an innings, giving up an earned run on one hit, Chipper Jones’ home run. Ryan Madson would pitch a scoreless, hittless third of an inning, striking out the only man he’d faced. Brad Lidge would pitch a wild, but scoreless ninth inning, giving up a hit while striking out the side. Jorge Campillo took the loss, as he pitched five innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits. His record is now 3-3 with a 2.99 ERA. Jeff Bennett would pitch an inning and a third of scoreless ball, giving up just two hits. Will Ohman would pitch two-thirds of an inning of scoreless ball, giving up no hits. Blaine Boyer would pitch an inning plus one batter, giving up an earned run on one hit. Royce Ring would pitch an inning, also giving up an earned run on two hits.
It would appear that the Phillies’ bats have awaken from their interleague play slumber as they got thirteen more hits last night, six of which were for extra bases (3 (2B), 1 (3B), 2 (HR)), something that was missing during the slide. If the bats have indeed come back to life, then this is going to be a long summer, for Phillies’ opponents. Also, Adam Eaton might have turned a corner, as he has finally gotten the runs support that has been missing in most of his previous start. If he has been listening to Jamie Moyer for pitching advice, like the previous night’s starter Kyle Kendrick, then the starting rotation might end up getting better as the season progress. But, even with the win, there is one present cause for concern, Ryan Howard’s fielding, as he single handedly almost got the Braves back into the ballgame because of a pair of fielding miscues, especially on the one that lead to the bases being loaded on a ball that he should’ve let Utley field for the final out. Someone may need to take Howard out and help him get the feel of playing first base before it can really hurt the Phils.
The Phillies (46-39) will conclude their three games visit with the Braves (40-45), with a chance for a sweep and, surprises of surprises, a winning road trip. The game will be played tonight at Turner Field, with a start time of 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their ace, Cole Hamels (8-5, 3.38), who is coming off a good start against the Rangers on June 28, where he went seven innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-6 win. He has already faced the Braves this season, pitching a four-hit shut out against them on May 15, going all nine innings, in the Phillies’ 5-0 win. He will be shooting for his ninth win of the year and to complete the Phillies’ second sweep of the Braves in their own home ballpark. The Braves will be sending Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94) to the mound to try and prevent the sweep. He is coming off a victory against the Blue Jays on June 27, where he would pitch eight innings, giving up no earned runs on three hits, in the Braves’ 4-0 win. In his last four starts, he has won three of them, with a no-decision in the fourth, which was also won by the Braves. In those games, he would give up only five earned runs in twenty-seven and two-thirds innings of work, while giving up no earned runs in the last twenty-three and two-thirds innings, while also giving up only twenty-five hits. He will also be shooting for his ninth victory, while seeing if he can stop the Phillies’ just reawaken bats and keep the Braves from being swept for the second straight time by the Phillies.
With the victory, the Phillies stay a game and a half ahead of the Marlins, who had earlier in the day beaten the Nationals. The Phils lead the Mets now by four and a half game as they’d lost their game to the Cardinals. The Phillies lead over the Braves is now at six games with their win. The Phillies will now try to leave Atlanta with a sweep of the Braves, before coming home to Citizens Bank Park to start a three teams, ten games in ten days, home stand before the All-Star break, during which they hope to create some breathing room between them and their nearest opponent.