The Phillies led the wild-card race Saturday, but a five-game losing streak, including an 8-4 defeat at Florida on Thursday night, ruined what could have been a meaningful final series at the Vet.
Philadelphia finished 6-13 against Florida this season and lost its final seven games in Miami.
“There are no excuses,” manager Larry Bowa said. “The Marlins beat us. They beat us all year, and that’s the difference between where we are and where they’re going.”
Jim Thome hit his NL-leading 45th home run, but Philadelphia did little else right. Randy Wolf (16-10) lasted just four innings, his second-shortest outing this season. Jose Mesa ignited a three-run sixth when the ball slipped from his hand on a throw to first and rolled into the outfield, missing his nearest teammate by 20 feet.
“We just didn’t play well. They played better,” Thome said. “We would score, and they would come back and score more.”
Atlanta beat Montreal 9-1 in its final home game of the regular season, as Rafael Furcal went 3-for-4. He had an RBI single and scored twice.
Gary Sheffield, who has a career-high 130 RBIs, drove in Atlanta’s first run with a double in the first inning.
The Braves hold a one-game lead over San Francisco for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs. Atlanta is 99-60, while the NL West champion Giants are 97-60 after losing to Houston on Wednesday.
STANDINGS: Braves - 1st place, NL East. Phillies - 3rd place, 14 GB, NL East.
BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Horacio Ramirez (11-4, 4.13 ERA). The rookie left-hander did not pitch well in his last outing, allowing four runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings of the Braves’ 6-5 loss to the Marlins in 10 innings on Friday night. He also walked five after allowing only two in his previous five starts.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Vicente Padilla (14-11, 3.57 ERA). Padilla is 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA in his past 13 starts, but 1-2 in his past three, including a 4-3 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. He allowed four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings. Padilla is 5-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 11 starts vs. the Braves.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Braves - Sheffield, .328 avg. and 130 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 42 HRs; Furcal, 130 runs and 25 SBs. Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .317 avg.; Thome, 45 HRs, 129 RBIs and 108 runs; Bobby Abreu, 22 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Phillies, 9-7.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Braves - OF Chipper Jones has a .349 career average in 59 games at the Vet, and OF Andruw Jones has 15 homers in 186 career at-bats there. … OF Sheffield is hitting .424 (14-for-33) with three homers in his career against RHP Padilla. Phillies - The Phillies lost 27 of their past 51 games. … As a team, the Phillies are hitting .189 (24-for-127) during their five-game skid.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Braves - 44-34 on the road; Phillies - 48-30 at home.