In what could be turning into a special season, the Philadelphia Phillies have demonstrated a flair for the dramatic. The Atlanta Braves, meanwhile, would just as soon leave all drama out of their games.
The NL East-leading Phillies look to build off an extra-inning victory and earn their third straight win Saturday night when they continue their three-game set at division rival Atlanta.
Philadelphia (37-26) trailed 2-1 entering the ninth inning of Friday’s series opener, but tied the game when Braves second baseman Kelly Johnson dropped Chris Coste’s pop-up with two outs, allowing Eric Bruntlett to score. In the 10th, Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino tripled home So Taguchi with the deciding run of the 4-3 victory.
“It was an unfortunate mistake for them, but tonight it worked out for us,” said Victorino, who also threw out Gregor Blanco at the plate in the bottom of the 10th to preserve the win. “(Johnson) has always been a sound defensive player. It could happen to anyone.”
It was the 20th come-from-behind win of the season for the Phillies, tying the Chicago Cubs for the most in the major leagues. Philadelphia has won 13 of 17 to build a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Florida - 4 1/2 over third-place Atlanta - in the NL East.
The Braves (32-20), meanwhile, were frustrated after blowing their 18th lead of the season and falling to 3-17 in one-run games - easily the worst mark in baseball. Atlanta is 29-13 in games decided by more than one run.
“You can’t try and give away a game as many times as we did tonight,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “Bad baserunning, not executing squeezes, defense was not good at critical times. We can’t do that with premier clubs.”
Jones went 2-for-3 Friday with a double and two walks, recording his fourth straight multihit game and continuing his phenomenal season. He raised his batting average to .421 and his on-base percentage to .504.
Although the Phillies own a 3-1 edge in the season series, Jones is 7-for-11 (.636) with a homer, two doubles, three runs scored, two RBIs and four walks versus Philadelphia in 2008.
He’s 4-for-8 with a homer and a double in his career against Kyle Kendrick (5-2, 5.00 ERA), who will take the ball for the Phillies on Saturday. Since opening the season 1-2, Kendrick has gone 4-0 with a 5.18 ERA in his last nine starts while benefiting from a 7.77 run support average.
The right-hander gave up four runs over 5 1-3 innings against Cincinnati on Monday, but got credit for Philadelphia’s 5-4 win.
He’ll face Braves left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (2-3, 4.78), who is 0-2 with a 5.50 ERA over his last three starts. Reyes pitched six innings against Florida on Monday, allowing three runs in a game the Braves won 7-5 in 10 innings.
These starting pitchers also faced each other May 13 at Philadelphia. Kendrick got the better of that matchup, earning the Phillies’ 5-4 win by giving up three runs over six innings. Reyes surrendered five runs and a career-high 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings.
The Phillies are an NL-best 15-7 when facing a left-handed starter.
The Braves have alternated wins with losses over their last four games.