Tag: Braves

I’m not saying it’s that big a deal, I’m just saying I’d feel better if they would outscore the Nationals

The Phillies played their last game before the All-Star break on July 12 this year. Here’s a look at the NL East standings at the end of the day on July 12 as well as the number of runs scored and allowed per game and the difference between the two for each team:

  W L R/G RA/G Dif
PHI 48 38 5.35 4.79 0.56
FLA 46 44 4.61 4.76 -0.14
ATL 43 45 4.24 4.31 -0.07
NYM 42 45 4.31 4.69 -0.38
WAS 26 61 4.38 5.62 -1.24

And here’s what the teams in the division have done since the break:

  W L R/G RA/G Dif
PHI 34 22 4.55 3.71 0.84
ATL 32 23 4.91 3.56 1.35
FLA 30 24 5.30 4.89 0.41
WAS 24 32 4.73 5.23 -0.50
NYM 21 36 4.00 4.77 -0.77

The Phils still have the best record in the second half of the season. But the Braves have scored more runs than the Phils and allowed fewer. By a lot. Despite the fantastic run differential for the second-half it looks like there’s not much chance Atlanta is going to figure out a way to get into the playoffs — they are six games out in the chase for the Wild Card and trail the Phils by 7 1/2 in the division.

The Phillies are doing a great job of preventing runs in the second half, allowing more than a run per game less than they allowed in the first half of the year. What they aren’t doing a great job of is scoring runs. They are fourth in the division in both runs scored and runs scored per game since the All-Star break. One of the three teams ahead of them in both of those categories is the Nationals, and they aren’t even considered a World Series contender. It’s not quite as awful as it seems like it should be — the Nats are seventh in the NL in runs scored overall for the season and tied for fifth since the All-Star break.

Tyler Walker would like to pitch in the post-season. I would like that too.

JA Happ hopes he can start Friday in Atlanta.


And down the stretch they come

The Phillies still have forty games left to play, almost a quarter of the season, but it sure looks like they’re going to the playoffs again in 2009. A look at the standings shows there are eight teams in the National League within eight games of a spot in the playoffs. The Phils, Cardinals and Dodgers lead the three divisions. The Rockies would be the Wild Card team if the season ended today and Atlanta, Florida, Chicago and San Francisco are all less than eight games behind in the chase for the playoffs.

The table below shows what those eight teams did in the first half of the season. Their record, winning percentage, the number of runs they scored per game, the number of runs they allowed per game and the difference between the number of runs they scored per game and the number of runs they allowed per game.

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 48 38 .558 5.35 4.79 0.56
ATL 43 45 .489 4.24 4.31 -0.07
FLA 46 44 .511 4.61 4.76 -0.14
             
STL 49 42 .538 4.43 4.12 0.31
CHI 43 43 .500 4.13 4.10 0.02
             
LAD 56 32 .636 5.03 3.84 1.19
COL 47 41 .534 5.02 4.60 0.42
SF 49 39 .557 4.18 3.68 0.50

The Dodgers were the best team in the NL in the first half of the season by a wide margin. Their pitching was almost as good as the Giants and their offense was better than any team except for the Phillies. They scored 1.19 runs more per game on average than they allowed. The Phillies were second-best in the NL in that differential and the Dodgers were more than twice as good as the Phillies.

Atlanta, Florida and Chicago all had weak first halves of the season compared to the rest of the group. The Giants had fantastic pitching, the best in the league, but a weak offense. The Cards were in the middle of the pack in both scoring and preventing runs while the Rockies put a lot of runs on the board but allowed more per game than any teams other than the Phils and Marlins. The Phils scored the most runs per game of the eight teams but also allowed the most.

Here’s what the eight teams have done since the All-Star break:

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 24 12 .667 5.19 3.56 1.64
ATL 23 13 .639 5.28 3.44 1.83
FLA 19 15 .559 5.09 4.71 0.38
             
STL 23 12 .657 4.63 3.60 1.03
CHI 19 17 .528 4.94 4.47 0.47
             
LAD 18 19 .486 4.32 3.78 0.54
COL 24 13 .649 5.30 4.00 1.30
SF 18 19 .486 3.70 3.95 -0.24

The Cards, Phillies, Braves and Rockies have all been fantastic in the second half. Each of the four teams has played to a winning percentage of .639 or higher. Of the four teams, the Braves have a 23-13 record to give them the worst winning percentage of the group. By run differential per game, though, Atlanta has been the best of the eight teams since the break. They have been the best of the eight teams at preventing runs while only the Rockies have scored more. The Braves have played 36 games since the break and won 23, scoring 190 runs and allowing 124. Pythagoras has them expecting to have won more games — 25-11 rather than their actual 23-13.

While those four teams have taken off, the Dodgers and the Giants have tanked out West with each team under .500 in the second half. The Giants still can’t score runs, but their pitching is no longer outstanding compared to the rest of the group. After being the best team at preventing runs in the first half of the year, the Phils, Braves, Cards and Dodgers have all done a better job keeping teams from scoring in the second half.

The Dodgers were second-best of the eight in preventing runs in the first half, but have been passed by the Phils, Braves and Cards in the second. They have a monster offense in the first half of the year, scoring more runs per game than any team other than the Phillies. The hitting has been meager since the break and the 4.32 runs per game the Dodgers have scored is worse than every team in the group other than the Giants.

The Cubs are just two games over .500 for the year at 62-60. The Fish have played to a .559 winning percentage in the second half, but their ability to prevent runs was seventh-best in the first half of the year and last in the group in the second. Not sure they have enough offense to make up for that.

Here’s what the numbers for the eight teams look like when you combine the first and second halves of the year:

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 72 50 .590 5.30 4.43 0.88
ATL 66 58 .532 4.54 4.06 0.48
FLA 65 59 .524 4.74 4.74 0.00
             
STL 72 54 .571 4.48 3.98 0.51
CHI 62 60 .508 4.37 4.21 0.16
             
LAD 74 51 .592 4.82 3.82 1.00
COL 71 54 .568 5.10 4.42 0.68
SF 67 58 .536 4.04 3.76 0.28

It’s hard to argue that anyone but the Dodgers have been the best team in the NL this season. Despite their struggles since the break, LA has the best winning percentage on the season and the best differential per game in the number of runs they’ve scored and allowed. The Phils are aren’t far behind, though.

So who’s going to the playoffs in the NL this season? We’re going to have to wait and see. If I had to guess, though, the guess that things will stay the same seems like the best by a wide margin — the Phils, Cards and Dodgers win the divisions with the Rockies as the Wild Card team. I’m going to be real surprised if the Fish, Cubs or Giants make the playoffs. Neither are likely, but I think the other two scenarios that are more possible are 1) The Rockies win the West with the Dodgers as the Wild Card or, a lot less likely than that, 2) The Braves pass either the Rockies or the Dodgers to win the Wild Card.

This article makes it sound like we shouldn’t be expecting Condrey or Romero to return from the DL any day now.

Brett Myers threw a scoreless inning for Lakewood yesterday and says he is throwing 93-94 miles per hour in this article.


Phils may be wondering if there’s time to send Myers back to the minors before his next start

The bad news is there might be.

It was looking pretty simple a couple of days ago. The Phils led the division by 2 1/2 games and were set to send their top two starters to the mound against the 69-88 Atlanta Braves. Two games later, it’s the 71-88 Atlanta Braves and the Phillies could start their next game with their lead in the playoff hunt cut to a single game.

Wild, ugly night at the yard last night. It featured a bomb scare, a bench-clearing incident and the Phils getting absolutely pounded. Through all of it, though, it was hard not to notice Brett Myers. Myers was hammered for his second straight outing. Over his last two starts, he has allowed 16 runs on 19 hits over 8 1/3 innings.

The game was mostly over after Myers, Durbin, Eyre and a throwing error by Howard all helped the Braves score six runs in the fifth inning, putting Atlanta up 9-3.

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, falling 10-4 to drop to 89-70 on the season. They have lost two in a row. They lead the Mets in the NL East by 1 1/2 games. The Mets are tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card. The Brewers and Mets both play today while the Phillies are idle — the Phils will lead each of them by either one game or two games by the end of the day.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and went 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on ten hits and two walks. Only four of the runs were earned. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out three.

Josh Anderson led off the first and doubled to right on a 1-0 pitch. Kelly Johnson reached on an infield single to second that moved Anderson to third. Martin Prado was next and hit a 3-2 pitch back up the middle for a single. Anderson scored to put Atlanta up 1-0 and Johnson went to third. Myers struck out Brian McCann for the first out as Prado stole second. Casey Kotchman was next and he singled to right. Johnson scored and it was 2-0. With men on first and third and two outs, Myers got Omar Infante to hit into a double-play back to the mound to end the frame.

Brandon Jones singled to right with one out in the second. Myers struck out the pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes for the second out before Anderson moved Jones to second with a single. Myers struck out Johnson to leave the runners stranded.

Myers started the third down 2-1. Prado led off with a single. McCann was next and ripped a 1-2 pitch down the first base line for a double. The ball bounced off the stands and into the middle of right field. Werth ran after it and made a great throw to nail Prado for the first out of the inning. McCann took third on the play at the plate. Kotchman was next and he grounded to first for the second out. McCann scored to make it 3-1. Infante followed with a double before Jeff Francoeur grounded to third for the third out.

Myers threw a 1-2-3 fourth.

He started the fifth with the game tied at 3-3. Prado walked with one out and McCann followed with another double, this time Werth dove for it and missed it, that scored Prado and made it 4-3. Myers walked the lefty Kotchman intentionally to put men on first and second. Infante was next and hit a ground ball to Howard. Howard threw to second and hit Kotchman with the throw. The ball went into center field, McCann scored to make it 5-3 and the Braves had runners on first and second with one out. Howard was charged with his 18th error. Durbin struck out Francoeur for the second out before Brandon Jones blooped a single to left that scored Kotchman (6-3) and moved Infante to second. Switch-hitter Chipper Jones hit for the pitcher Buddy Carlyle and Eyre came in to pitch to him. Chipper hit a 2-1 pitch out to left. 9-3. Eyre struck out Anderson for the third out.

A day after Hamels’ throw at third hurts the Phils, Howard’s throw to second helped blow up the fifth last night.

Eyre came back for the sixth. McCann doubled yet again with two outs, but Kotchman grounded to first to leave him stranded.

Seanez got three fly balls in a 1-2-3 seventh.

Romero started the eighth with the Phillies down 9-3. Anderson walked with one out and stole second. Romero struck out Johnson for the second out before Prado singled to left. Anderson scored to make it 10-3 and Prado took second on the throw to the plate. McCann grounded back to the pitcher for the third out.

Even with the day off today, I don’t think I would have put Romero in the game with the Phils down six runs in the eighth.

Condrey pitched the ninth. He allowed a two-out single to Francoeur before Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Julian Tavarez and grounded out to first.

Not a good game for the pen. They went 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. Durbin actually pitched fine. He faced three batters. One reached thanks to the Howard error, the next he struck out and the third hit a soft single to left. Eyre gave up the big home run to Chipper. Romero allowed a run on a hit and a walk. Eyre threw 26 pitches in the game, Romero 17 and Durbin 16. I’d guess they will all be available on Friday.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Jo-Jo Reyes went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Coste. Feliz at third against the lefty. Coste behind the plate.

Down 2-0, the Phils went in order in the first.

Burrell doubled with one out in the second. Victorino was next and hit a ground ball to second that Johnson didn’t handle for an error. Burrell went to third. Feliz singled into center and Burrell scored, cutting the Atlanta lead to 2-1 with Victorino going to second. Coste hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Utley hit an 0-1 pitch out to right with two outs in the third. It cut the Atlanta lead to 3-2. Werth flew to center for the third out.

Howard hit a 2-0 pitch out to center to start the fourth, tying the game at 3-3. Burrell was next and he doubled to right on the first pitch of his at-bat. Victorino flew to right for the first out with Burrell tagging and moving to third. Righty Buddy Carlyle came in to pitch to Feliz and stuck him out swinging for the second out. Coste grounded to short for the third out.

Feliz can’t bring the runner in from third with one out. Phils don’t score after Burrell doubled with nobody out.

Rollins walked with one out in the fifth and the Phils down 9-3. Utley flew to right for the second out before Rollins stole second. Werth grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning.

Burrell walked with one out in the sixth. Victorino followed with a ground ball to short and Burrell was forced at second. Victorino stole second before Feliz flew to right for the third out.

With righty Jorge Julio on the mound, Jenkins hit for Seanez to start the seventh and doubled. Ruiz was next and struck out. Rollins moved Jenkins to second with a walk. Utley was next and he ripped a ball down the first base line, but Kotchman made a nice diving play to take extra-bases away from him for the second out. The runners moved to second and third. They were left stranded there when Werth struck out.

Down 10-3 in the eighth, Burrell drew a walk with one out. Victorino was next and doubled to right, moving Burrell to third. Dobbs hit for Feliz with the righty Tavarez on the mound and struck out swinging for the second out. Stairs hit for Romero. With nobody holding third, Victorino danced way off the bag and Tavarez ran off the mound to chase him back. Victorino made it back to the base easily. Tavarez returned to the mound and he and Victorino began talking and then moved towards each other. Benches cleared, no punches thrown. Stairs struck out to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Rollins was 0-for-3 with two walks in the game. 1-for-11 with two walks in the series. 276/346/435 for the year.

Utley was 1-for-5 with his 33rd home run, which is a career-high. 4-for-11 with two doubles, two walks and a home run in the series. 289/378/534.

Werth was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 1-for-12 in the series. 2-for-his-last-26. Doesn’t have a walk in his last 30 at-bats. Will be interesting if we see Stairs or Jenkins in right the next time the Phils get a righty. I think we should. Lefty John Lannan goes for the Nats on Friday, though, so Werth will likely be back out there. 270/362/493 for the year.

Howard was 1-for-4 with his 47th homer. 3-for-10 with a triple, a home run and two walks in the set. 248/337/537. He’s a really bad defensive player.

Burrell was 2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks. 4-for-9 with three doubles, a home run and three walks in the series. Burrell and Werth both came in slumping badly. Burrell looks like he broke out. Werth didn’t. Burrell is hitting 250/367/509 for the season.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a double. 4-for-12 with a double and a triple in the series. 290/350/445 for the season.

Feliz 1-for-3 with an RBI. 2-for-10 with two RBI in the series. 249/301/401 for the year. Dobbs 0-for-1 in the game and 1-for-2 in the series. 300/333/489 for the season.

Coste 0-for-2. 1-for-3 in the series. 266/326/428 for the year. Ruiz was 0-for-3 in the game and 0-for-9 with a walk in the series. 223/324/306 for the season.

No game today.


Phils unveil a whole new dimension to their problems at third base

A lot of things are going to have to go wrong a lot of days in a row to keep the Phillies out of the playoffs. That probably won’t happen, but Phillies fans would sure feel a lot better if a lot of things hadn’t gone wrong last night. With a loss to the Braves and wins by the Mets and Brewers, the Phils hold on a playoff spot is suddenly a little less secure than it was a day ago.

But much in the same way that the Phillies haven’t won anything yet, they certainly haven’t lost anything yet either. They have four games to play and lead their division by a game and a half. Despite a tough game and some mistakes last night, they’re playing fantastic baseball. They’ve won ten of their last 12.

Last night they made two big mistakes and didn’t hit well enough to overcome them. Both of the mistakes came at third base. In the third inning, Kelly Johnson left too early trying to steal third. Hamels would have had him easily, but threw the ball away and Johnson came in to score on the error. Burrell made a big base-running mistake in the sixth that probably cost the Phils a run. With the Phils down 3-2 and Burrell on second, Victorino hit a ground ball to short. Burrell took off for third with the ball in front of him and was tagged out after a short rundown.

Not to be lost in last night’s frustrations is that the Phillies pitched very well. Hamels was good and the bullpen was fantastic. The 24-year-old Hamels has now thrown 227 1/3 innings on the season and the one thing I can assure you of is that the Phillies are going to pay that bill sooner or later. Not last night, though. He was good, just like he’s been just about all of the second half. Chad Durbin, who is also critical to the Phils, also got four outs without allowing a base-runner.

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, losing 3-2 to drop to 89-69 on the season. They are in first place in the NL East and lead the Mets by 1 1/2 games. The Mets lead the Brewers by one game for the Wild Card. The Phillies have four games left to play, the Mets and Brewers each have five.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk. Only two of the runs were earned. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out seven.

Opponents are now hitting .274 against him in September, which is somewhat alarming in the context of his numbers over his career (it’s higher, you see). Hamels has thrown to a 2.84 ERA in his five starts this month.

Martin Prado doubled with one out in the first. Kelly Johnson was next and blooped a 2-2 pitch into center for a single. Prado scored without a throw to put the Braves up 1-0. Johnson stole second before Hamels walked Brian McCann to put men on first and second. Omar Infante popped to first for the second out. Hamels struck out Jeff Francoeur to end the frame.

Casey Kotchman started the second with a single with the game tied at 1-1. Brent Lillibridge struck out for the first out before the pitcher Mike Hampton bunted Kotchman to second. Josh Anderson was next and dribbled a ball out in front of the plate for an infield single that sent Kotchman to third, but Hamels got Prado to fly to right for the third out.

Johnson started the third with an infield single that took a bad hop on Howard. McCann flew to center for the first out before Infante singled to center, moving Johnson to second. Kotchman was next and Hamels had Johnson when Johnson took off for third too early, but threw the ball away. Johnson scored to make it 2-1 and Infante went to third. Hamels struck out Kotchman to leave Infante stranded.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 fourth and a 1-2-3 fifth.

With two outs in the sixth, Kotchman pounded the first pitch of his at-bat out to right to put the Braves up 3-1. Lillibridge popped to second for the third out.

Ruben Gotay hit for Hampton to start the seventh and singled, but Hamels got the next three in order to leave him stranded. Rollins made a nice play for the first out of the inning — Anderson broke his bat and blooped a ball behind the mound, but Rollins made a nice play to get him at first and changed the inning.

Eyre started the eighth with the Phils down 3-2 and got McCann to ground to second for the first out. Durbin came in to pitch to the righty Infante and got him on a ground ball to third. Francoeur popped to short for the third out.

Durbin returned for the ninth and got the first two before switch-hitter Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Jeff Bennett. Romero came in to pitch to Norton and struck him out swinging to end the frame.

Two perfect innings for the pen. It was especially nice to see Durbin pitch well. He dropped his ERA for the month to 7.94 with a scoreless 1 1/3 innings. Durbin threw 12 pitches in the game, Eyre and Romero were both under five. The pen needed just 20 pitches to throw two perfect innings.

With the day off tomorrow, Manuel may have everyone in his pen available for tonight’s game.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Mike Hampton went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz at third against the lefty. Ruiz catches.

Utley singled with one out in the first and the Phils down 1-0. Werth hit into a double-play behind him.

Howard started the second with a single and Burrell walked behind him. Victorino was next and he hit into a double-play with Howard moving to third with two down. Feliz was next and lined a 1-0 pitch into right to score Howard and tie the game at 1-1. Ruiz grounded to second for the third out.

Utley doubled with two outs in the third. Werth was next and hit a ball to second that Johnson didn’t handle for an error that moved Utley to third. Howard walked to load the bases, but Burrell popped to third to leave the bases loaded.

Ruiz walked with two outs in the fourth. Hamels struck out to end the inning.

1-2-3 in the fifth.

Down 3-1 in the sixth, Howard led off and tripled into the right field corner. Burrell was next and blasted a double off the wall in center. Howard scored and it was 3-2. Victorino was next and hit a ground ball to short. Miserable base-running by Burrell got him caught as he took off for third and tagged out for the second out. Victorino was caught stealing for the second out before Feliz grounded to third to end the inning.

Yuck. The Phils gave away two outs on the bases in the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh. Coste hit for Hamels and flew to right for the second out.

Howard walked with two outs in the eighth. Burrell grounded to third to end the inning.

Feliz walked with one out in the ninth. Golson ran for him at first. With the lefty Mike Gonzalez on the mound, Ruiz hit for himself and hit into a double-play to end the game.

It’s tough to watch Ruiz hit in that situation. Righties on the bench for the Phils were Bruntlett, Cevernak, Iguchi, Taguchi and Marson. My initial reaction was that the Phils should have hit Iguchi and let Marson catch the tenth if it happened. I would have done it, just because I think Iguchi is a good hitter and Ruiz is a bad hitter, but the numbers don’t really support that. Iguchi is hitting a miserable 169/256/221 against lefties this season. Ruiz 215/354/338.

It does illustrate a flaw in the Phillies roster — they need to have a better right-handed hitter available to them late in the game. Especially in games when Coste starts behind the plate.

Rollins was 0-for-4.

Utley 2-for-4 with a double. He’s 4-for-his-last-10 with two doubles and a homer.

Werth 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 2-for-his-last-22 with two singles. The Phillies are going to have to do something about Werth, but probably not tonight with a lefty on the mound.

Howard was 2-for-2 with a triple and two walks.

Burrell 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and four men left on base. Big mistake on the bases.

Victorino 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a caught stealing.

Feliz 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Big two-out hit in the second.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk.

Brett Myers (10-12, 4.46) faces lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74) tonight. Over his last two starts, Reyes has gone 5 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs on 12 hits (including four homers) and two walks. He has a 9.00 ERA since the All-Star break. Righties are hitting .315 against him for the season. Myers got bombed on Friday against the Marlins, allowing ten run in four innings in just about his only bad start in an otherwise excellent second half of the season. He has a 2.77 ERA with a 1.09 ratio in 13 starts at home this season. In his 16 starts away from Citizens Bank Park he’s thrown to a 6.21 ERA with a 1.61 ratio.

Big game tonight for the Phils. A loss would make things interesting in a way you’re not really looking for.


JA leads the wa

It wasn’t the ’27 Yankees. Actually, with Chipper Jones and Brian McCann on the bench to start the game, it wasn’t even the ’08 Braves, either. But JA Happ did it again last night. For the second time in two starts, the 25-year-old pitched well enough to help the Phils get a big win in the heat of a tight race for a division title.

Happ kept the game close and the Phils broke open a 2-2 tie with four runs in the eighth. After Greg Golson helped the Phillies create a run with his speed, Pat Burrell hit a ball out to left for a three-run homer that broke the game open.

The list of Phillies playing well these days is pretty long — long enough for some of the stars of September to be overlooked. Pitching for the third straight day, Ryan Madson made his eleventh appearance of the month last night. He hasn’t been charged with a run since August 28. With three more hits last night, Shane Victorino is 18-for-his-last-33.

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 6-2 to improve to 89-68 on the season. They have won three in a row and are 21 games above .500 for the first time since 1993. They lead the Mets in the NL East by 2 1/2 games. The Mets are a game ahead of the Brewers for the Wild Card.

Happ got the start for the Phillies and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a two-run homer. He struck out five.

Happ threw a 1-2-3 first.

He started the second up 1-0. Omar Infante led off with a single and went to second on a passed ball. Jeff Francoeur was next and grounded to short with Infante going to third with one down. Casey Kotchman lined to short for the second out. Clint Sammons was swinging 3-0 and popped up to Howard in foul territory to end the frame.

Up 2-0, he set the Braves down in order in the third.

He struck out two in a 1-2-3 fourth.

Sammons walked with two outs in the fifth. Brent Lillibridge was next and moved Hammonds to second with a single. The pitcher Jair Jurrjens popped to Howard to set the Braves down.

Martin Prado singled with one out in the sixth. Kelly Johnson was next and the lefty hit an 0-1 pitch out to right, tying the game at 2-2. Happ struck out Infante before Francoeur singled into center, but Kotchman flew to Werth in right for the third out.

Happ started the seventh having thrown 84 pitches. He got Sammons to pop to Howard for the first out, but Lillibridge hit the first pitch of his at-bat into left for a single. Jurrjens hit for himself and bunted Lillibridge to second for the second out. Righty Yunel Escobar hit for the righty Josh Anderson and Manuel called on Seanez to pitch to Escobar. Greg Norton hit for Escobar and the Phillies put him on. With men on first and second and two down, Seanez got Prado to ground to third to set the Braves down.

Seanez returned for the eighth. Johnson led off and lined a ball into right-center. Werth made a nice effort, diving for the ball but having it go off his glove. Victorino was backing up nicely, but kicked the ball, then threw to Utley and Utley dropped the relay. Johnson wound up on third and Victorino was charged with an error. Infante lined to first for the first out. Francoeur was next, and with the infield in, hit a high chop to short with Johnson running on contact. Rollins jumped up to field it, landed and threw a strike to the plate where Ruiz tagged out the sliding Johnson for the second out. Great play by Rollins and by Ruiz — Ruiz did a fantastic job of blocking the plate and denying Johnson a part of the plate to slid into. Johnson was going to have to run Ruiz over and that’s gotta be a tough sell when you’re 19 games out of first place. Eyre came in to pitch to the lefty Kotchman and got him to fly to center for the third out.

Madson started the ninth with a 6-2 lead. Lidge wasn’t going to pitch, Madson was up when the Phils went up 3-2. Switch-hitter Ruben Gotay hit for the righty Sammons and flew to right for the first out. Switchy Chipper Jones hit for righty Brent Lillibridge and singled to left. Lefty Brian McCann hit for the pitcher Julian Tavarez and drove a ball the opposite way down the left field line. The ball hit off the line at the top of the wall and over. McCann was given, correctly, a double. With one out and men on second and third, Gregor Blanco flew to left for the second out. Prado was next and hit the ball hard but right at Utley. Utley took it and threw to first to end the game.

Great job by Manuel not to use Lidge for the third straight day given how many pitches he has thrown. Seanez, Eyre and Madson combined to go 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk. Seanez threw 22 pitches, Eyre three and Madson 13. Madson is the only guy of that group that rest should be a factor for. Madson was pitching for his third straight day, although he has thrown less than 15 pitches in each of the last two days after throwing 25 on Saturday.

The massive contribution of Madson this month has somehow escaped the attention it deserves. Madson has made 11 appearances this month and thrown 12 1/3 innings without being charged with a run. Nine hits and one walk while striking out 15.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz plays third against the righty after the big home run on Sunday. Ruiz catches. Slumpers Burrell and Werth stay in the lineup.

Rollins led off the first with a double. Utley was next and he hit an 0-1 pitch into the right field corner for another double. Rollins scored and the Phils led 1-0. Utley was left stranded at second, though. Werth grounded to short, Howard flew to left and Burrell flew to left.

Victorino led off the second with a single and went to second when Feliz followed with a ground ball to short. He went to third on a wild pitch and the Braves brought the infield in with Ruiz at the plate. With Victorino running on contact, Ruiz hit a ground ball to short and Johnson had to take the out at first as Victorino scored to put the Phils up 2-0. Happ grounded to second for the third out.

Utley walked with one out in the third, but Werth and Howard went down behind him.

Victorino singled with one out in the fourth. Feliz hit into a double-play behind him.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.

The game was tied at 2-2 when they hit in the sixth. Werth singled to center with one out and stole second as Howard struck out for the second out. Burrell flew to center for the third out.

They went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

Dobbs hit for Eyre to start the eighth and singled into center. Golson ran for Dobbs at first. Jeff Bennett tried to pick Golson off of first, but threw the ball away and Golson went all the way to third. Rollins grounded to second for the first out and Utley was walked intentionally. Werth hit a ground ball to third and Golson took off on contact. Prado made a strong throw home, but Golson slid in safely. Sammons didn’t do nearly as good a job of blocking the plate as Ruiz had done in the top of the inning, but Prado’s throw wasn’t as perfect as Rollins had been. Howard flew to center for the second out before Burrell got ahead 3-0 and then hit a 3-1 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 6-2. Victorino was next and lined a triple into right-center. Feliz flew to left for the third out.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double. He played a better game than that, though, getting the Phillies started in the first and making a big defensive play to throw Johnson out in the eighth.

Utley 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and an RBI. He has at least one hit in 14 of his last 15 games.

Werth 1-for-4 with an RBI. 2-for-his-last-18 with two singles.

Howard 0-for-4 and left five men on base.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a three-run homer. The home run was his 33rd on the year. He hit 37 in 2002, which was his career high.

Victorino 3-for-4 with a triple. He’s hitting 351/390/532 this month, but without the impact you would expect. He’s hitting behind the slumping Burrell and, often, ahead of Feliz.

Feliz 0-for-4 and left three men on base. 2-for-his-last-21.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with an RBI. Fantastic job to block the plate in the eighth.

Cole Hamels (14-9, 3.10) faces lefty Mike Hampton (2-3, 5.05) or, less likely, lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74) tonight. The Braves and Phillies web sites both list Reyes as the starting pitcher, but he started on Friday against the Mets. Hampton faced the Phils on Thursday and allowed four runs over seven innings. Only two of the runs were earned. Over his last two starts, Reyes has gone 5 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs on 12 hits (including four homers) and two walks. He has a 9.00 ERA since the All-Star break. Righties are hitting .315 against him for the season. Hamels started Thursday’s game against the Braves in Atlanta and allowed two runs over six innings. Opponents are hitting .271 against him in September — that’s higher than any month of his career with the exception of June, 2006, when they hit .295 against him.


Better make that 32 good swings a year

I think the notion that Pat Burrell is only good for thirty good swings a year is absurd. Whether you agree or not, it’s hard to deny that he came up with a big swing last night. Every day seems to bring a new hero for the Phils, and last night it was the slumping Burrell’s turn. With one out and a man on first in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game, Burrell lined a 3-2 pitch from Mike Hampton out to left to put the Phils on top to stay.

Cole Hamels gave the Phils another solid start. The 24-year-old has now thrown an NL-leading 220 1/3 innings on the season. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his last eight starts (in his start before that he allowed three runs, two of which were unearned).

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 4-3 to improve to 86-67 on the season. They sweep the three-game series and have won seven games in a row for the first time this year. They are 19 games above .500 for the first time since June 25, 1995 — they were 37-18 at the time and went 32-57 the rest of the way to end the season at 69-75 (the season was shortened due to the strike in ’94).

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out five.

He started the first with a 2-0 lead. He got the first two before Chipper Jones drew a walk. Brian McCann was next and the lefty blasted a 3-2 pitch off the wall in right for a double that scored Jones and cut the lead to 2-1. Omar Infante grounded back to Hamels to end the inning.

Casey Kotchman led off the first and again a lefty hurt Hamels. Kotchman drove a 1-1 pitch out to right-center to tie the game at 2-2. Hamels got the next three.

Martin Prado started the third with a single and Kelly Johnson bunted him to second. Chipper grounded to short before McCann walked to put men on first and second. Infante again grounded back to the pitcher to set Atlanta down.

Jeff Francoeur singled with one out in the fourth. Hamels struck out Josh Anderson and the pitcher Mike Hampton behind him.

Chipper doubled with two outs in the fifth. McCann grounded to third to leave him stranded.

Hamels started the sixth up 4-2. Infante led off with a single and went to second on a ground out by Kotchman and third on another by Francoeur. Anderson struck out swinging to leave him at third.

With two outs in the seventh, Johnson hit a ball to Howard that Howard flubbed for what should have been an error, but Johnson was given a hit. Pretty routine play for Howard, who had to come off the bag but should have made the play. Just an absurd call that allows Johnson to keep up a hit streak. Hamels walked Jones to put men on first and second before McCann hit a ground ball to short that Rollins didn’t handle for an error. This one allowed Jones to score and cut the lead to 4-3. Brent Lillibridge ran for McCann at first at the tying run and went to second on a wild pitch. Infante popped to Feliz to end the inning.

Romero pitched the eighth up a run. He got the first two before Anderson beat out an infield single to third. Yunel Escobar hit for the pitcher Julian Tavarez and popped to Utley in foul territory for the third out.

Lidge started the ninth and struck out Prado on three pitches for the first out. Johnson was next and got ahead 3-0 before he grounded a 3-2 pitch to Howard for the second out. Chipper was next and Lidge struck him out with a 1-2 slider to end the game.

Three innings for the pen in which they allow two hits and a walk and looked real solid. Madson allows a run that is unearned, but almost completely the fault of faulty defense behind him. Nice to see Romero throw a whole inning — the Phils are going to need him before it’s over for sure. Lidge looked much, much better. Madson threw 18 pitches, Lidge 13 and Romero 11.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Mike Hampton went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz at third against the lefty. Ruiz catches.

Utley singled with one out in the first. Werth was next and doubled to center, going to third on an error by Anderson as Utley scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Howard hit a sac fly to left that scored Werth and made it 2-0. Burrell grounded to first for the third out.

Ruiz doubled with two outs in the second, but Hamels grounded to first behind him.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the third.

Victorino walked with two outs in the fourth. Feliz was next and dumped a single into center that moved Victorino to third. Ruiz grounded to third to leave both runners stranded.

Rollins was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth, but Utley hit into a double-play behind him.

Werth started the sixth with a ground ball to third, but Chipper’s throw to first was bad and Werth was safe on the error. Howard was next and grounded to second with Werth forced at second for the first out. Burrell got ahead 2-0 before he lined a 3-2 pitch out to left for a two-run homer, putting the Phils up 4-2. Victorino followed with a double and Feliz was walked intentionally. Ruiz lined to third for the second out and Jones threw to first to double-off Feliz to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh. Tad Iguchi hit for Hamels to start the inning, getting his first at-bat of the year as a Phillie, and Hampton got him to fly to center.

Howard walked with one out in the eighth. A single by Burrell moved him to second. Bruntlett ran for Burrell at first, but Victorino struck out and Feliz grounded to third to leave both runners stranded.

Rollins walked with two outs in the ninth. Utley grounded out behind him.

Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk in the game. 3-for-13 with a double in the series. 278/347/440 for the year. He’s hitting 338/427/492 in September.

Utley was 1-for-5 in the game. 2-for-13 with a double in the series. 287/376/528 for the year. 237/324/322 for the month.

Werth was 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the game. 6-for-12 with two doubles, a homer and two walks in the series. He seems to be doing just fine playing every day. 283/379/521 for the year.

Howard 0-for-2 with a walk and an RBI. 5-for-10 with a triple, a home run, three walks and five RBI in the series. 248/337/534.

Werth and Howard, the new hear of the Phillies order, combine to go 11-for-22 with five walks in the series.

Burrell 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. 3-for-13 in the series. 252/367/510 for the year.

Victorino 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. 7-for-12 with two doubles in the series but just one RBI, which is in large part due to Burrell’s struggles. Victorino is red hot, 11-for-his-last-16, and not driving in runs because of where’s he’s hitting in the lineup. 289/351/434 for the year.

Feliz 1-for-3 with a walk in the game. 1-for-10 with three walks in the series. 250/302/400 for the year. Dobbs drew a walk in his only plate appearance of the series. He’s hitting 292/327/467 for the year. The walk was his only one in his last 42 at-bats.

Ruiz 1-for-4 in the game and left four men on base. 3-for-9 with a double, a home run and two walks in the series. 229/326/313 for the year. 294/368/500 for the year. Coste was 0-for-1 in the series and is hitting 268/326/434 for the year.

Brett Myers (10-11, 4.06) faces righty Josh Johnson (5-1, 3.30) tonight. Johnson has faced the Phils twice this season, holding them to a pair of runs over 12 2/3 innings. Moyer has a 1.80 ERA and a 1.00 ratio in his 11 starts since the All-Star break.


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