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March 23 2007

The Phils fell to the Braves this afternoon, losing 7-4 to drop to 8-14 in spring training. 

The Phillies got just three hits, singles from Rollins, Burrell and Karim Garcia, off of Kyle Davies through six innings.  Burrell's single brought in Utley in the fourth, Chase had walked and moved to second on a ground out.  Davies has thrown to a 1.93 ERA in his four starts this spring after going 3-7 with an 8.38 ERA last season.  Many Phillies fans are counting on him to anchor a wretched bottom of the rotation for the Braves.  In his three starts against the Phils last season he allowed 22 hits, including five home runs, in 9 2/3 innings while throwing to a 14.60 ERA.

Rollins, Victorino and Utley combined to go 1-for-8 with just the single by Rollins.  All three are hitting well this spring.  Rollins' .333 average is the worst of the trio.

Greg Dobbs hit a three-run homer in the ninth.  It was his fourth of the spring in 43 at-bats.

Garcia was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and played first base again, presumably to confirm he could backup there if Coste doesn't start the year with the Phils. 

24-year-old lefty JA Happ got the start for the Phils and was good.  He went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out six.  The Braves scored a run against him in each of the first two innings, but he kept them off the board in his last three.  He struck out six.  He's pitched to a 6.06 ERA this spring.

Ryan Madson entered the game in the sixth and shut Atlanta down 1-2-3 to drop his spring ERA to 2.25.  Matt Smith, who has been dealing with a groin problem, followed Madson.  He struck out the first man he faced, but the next batter followed with a single and Brayan Pena, who leads all of baseball in the number of times you have to check the spelling of his name to believe it, socked a two-run homer.  It might be close to time to start to worry about Smith's chances to get people out, although I don't think anyone needs to worry about his chances to make the team yet.

Alfonseca pitched the eighth and allowed a run on two hits.  The run wasn't earned due to an error by Brennan King. 

Speaking of errors, Tom Gordon started the ninth and didn't make it through with the help of some miserable fielding from the Phils.  He struck out the first man before the next two reached on a walk and a single.  The next two batters reached on Phillies' errors, one from Abernathy and one from Nunez.  Two unearned runs scored on the error by Nunez.  Gordon struck out the next man for the second out of the inning and was replaced by Brett Harker, who got the last out of the game.  Harker is a 22-year-old righty the Phillies took in the fifth round of the 2005 draft.  He threw to a 2.92 ERA in 64 2/3 innings for Lakewood last year. 

The Phils play the Reds tomorrow afternoon.

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