The Phillies dubbed themselves a “team of necessity” last season and this year has brought a marked lack of necessity. The Mets have been riddled with injuries and nothing has forced the Phils to separate themselves from New York and the other teams in a weak NL East. And they didn’t. And now they’ve done it for so long they have some company atop the division.

You hear a whole lot of bashing of the NL East this year. And with good reason. The other teams at least have an excuse. The Mets have had to overcome ridiculous injuries and there aren’t a whole lot of people who thought the Marlins, Braves or Nationals had a huge chance to take the division in the first place. It’s harder to find an excuse for the Phillies.

The next post won’t be till Monday, so here’s the recap of the first two games with the Braves.

The Phillies are 39-36 on the season after dropping the first two games of a three-game set in Atlanta in miserable fashion. The are in first place in the NL East, a half game ahead of the second-place Marlins and two games ahead of the injury-plagued Mets.

The Phillies lost the first game of the series 5-4. Blanton went just five innings and left with the Phils down 3-2. Homers by Mayberry and Feliz put the Phils up 4-3 in the eighth, but Atlanta tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom the eighth with an unearned run that scored with the help of errors by Madson and Werth. The Phils made three errors in the game. The Braves won the game against Park in the bottom of the tenth — Park got the first out and then allowed three straight singles.

The Phillies got two hits yesterday, singles by Bako and Victorino, and lost 11-1. Hamels was awful for his second straight start — he allowed seven runs over four innings. The pen allowed four runs in four frames after he left.

Hamels and Blanton combined to throw to a 9.00 ERA with a a 2.44 ratio over nine innings in the first two games of the set.

Blanton went five innings in game one, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks. Not a good outing for Blanton, but he had a 3.62 ERA in his six June starts.

Hamels allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks over four innings in game two. He didn’t allow a home run in the game, giving up seven singles and two doubles. He struck out just one. It’s two bad starts in a row for Hamels. He’s allowed 11 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings over his last two starts.

The bullpen went 8 1/3 innings in the first two games of the series, throwing to a 3.24 ERA and a 1.56 ratio. They allowed six runs, only three of which were earned, on ten hits and three walks. In the first game Madson was charged with a run on a hit and two walks over 2/3 of an inning before Park took the loss in the tenth. Walker allowed two home runs last night and Taschner gave up two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth with the game already out of reach.

Romero entered game one in the eighth with two outs, men on first and third and the score tied at 4-4. He got Brian McCann on a popup to Utley to end the inning. He came back to start the ninth with the score still tied and got the only two men he faced before Park came on to pitch to righty Jeff Francoeur.

Taschner started the bottom of the eighth yesterday with the Phillies down 9-1. The first man he faced reached on an error by Feliz. He got the next two before allowing a walk and two singles that plated two runs for the Braves and made the score 11-1. He struck Matt Diaz out with two men on to end the inning.

Both runs charged to Taschner were unearned because of the error by Feliz He didn’t pitch well, though. He has been charged with runs in four of his last five appearances and his ERA has gone from 3.74 to 5.20. He has a 1.95 ratio on the season and has allowed 20 walks in 27 2/3 innings. That’s not a typo — he really has walked 20 in 27 2/3 innings on the year.

Escalona pitched the seventh inning last night with the Phillies down 9-1. He allowed a one-out single, but got the next two.

He’s made six appearances on the season for the Phils — one, on June 13 against the Red Sox, was bad, but the other five have been impressive.

Park entered the ninth inning of game one with two outs and the score tied at 4-4 to pitch to Francoeur. Francoeur flew to right to end the inning. Park came back to start the tenth and struck out the first hitter before back-to-back singles and a throw to third put men on second and third with one out. Prado singled to left to give Atlanta a 5-4 win.

Durbin started the sixth inning of game one with the Phillies down 3-2. He pitched the sixth and the seventh, keeping the Braves off the board and allowing just one single.

Madson started the eighth inning of game one with a 4-3 lead. He got the first two outs before walking Gregor Blanco. Madson made an error trying to pick Blanco off, allowing the runner to move to second where he scored on a Martin Prado double to tie the game at 4-4. Prado went to third on another error when Werth mishandled the wall and Madson walked Chipper Jones intentionally. Romero came in to pitch to McCann with two outs and men on first and third.

Walker relieved Hamels yesterday in the fifth with nobody out and a man on first, the Phillies down 6-1. Two of the next four hitters he faced homered, putting the Phillies down 9-1. He got the pitcher Jair Jurrjens on a ball hit back to the mound to end the inning.

He came back to throw a 1-2-3 sixth.

The runs he allowed last night were the first charged to him on the season.

Lidge did not pitch in the first two games of the series.

Nobody in the pen has pitched two days in a row. Walker threw 29 pitches last night and Taschner 21.

The Phillies scored five runs in the first two games of the series.

Rollins was 0-for-8 with a walk. His last hit came on June 18 and he’s at 205/250/319 for the season.

Victorino 2-for-8 with two singles and a walk. 295/362/440 for the season. The .362 on-base percentage is nice to see. He’s had a little bit of a power drought recently — no extra-base hits in his last 29 at-bats.

Utley went 2-for-8 with a homer in the first two. 301/428/560 on the year.

Howard 2-for-8 with a double. 256/328/535.

Werth 0-for-6 with three walks. 265/363/484 on the year.

Dobbs started in left in each of the first two games. He went 1-for-5 with a double and a walk. 228/284/418 for the year. He has walked once since the game against the Nats on May 30.

Feliz went 3-for-6 with a home run and a walk. 292/337/420 on the year. The walk in the first game of the set means he ends June with three walks in 99 at-bats for the month.

Ruiz started game one and was 0-for-4. 243/349/378. After the first game in June he had a .430 on-base percentage for the season, but hit just .174 with a .250 on-base percentage in June.

Mayberry was 1-for-2 with a home run in the series. He’s hitting 231/268/590 for the year with four home runs in 39 at-bats.

Bruntlett was 0-for-1 to drop his line for the year to 134/208/194.

Coste was 0-for-1 and is hitting 250/348/390.

Stairs was 0-for-1 and is at 291/426/491 on the year. He has just one extra-base hit since May 27, a double, which has dropped his slugging percentage from .633 to .491.

Bako started last night and was 1-for-4 in the first two games of the set. He’s 2-for-7 with the Phillies. I’m hoping Escalona gets to stay when Lopez is activated. Not optimistic.

Rodrigo Lopez will start tomorrow night’s game against the Mets. In 13 starts at Triple-A he’s thrown to a 3.91 ERA with a 1.35 ratio. He’s allowed a lot of hits, 83 in 71 1/3 innings, but not too many walks (13) or home runs (4). Over his last three starts he’s allowed two earned runs in 21 innings (0.86 ERA) with a 1.00 ratio.