Phillies 8, Braves 1
ATLANTA (AP)—Randy Wolf just wanted to survive the first inning. After 40 pitches, he felt like a punch-drunk fighter.
“That was dumb luck,” he said. “It was one of those innings when you look back and wonder why they didn’t score.”
Wolf (9-3) allowed three hits and one run, striking out five. He improved to 4-0 in five starts this month and 6-1 in his last 10 outings.
The left-hander didn’t escape the first until he struck out Javy Lopez on an inside fastball with the bases loaded. Wolf had struggled in the past with the Braves. He was just 2-7 with a 4.35 ERA in 12 career appearances against Atlanta.
“Luckily, I was able to make a pitch on Javy,” Wolf said. “That was a tough spot because I didn’t want to get in a situation with the bases loaded where I had to give him something to hit. He’s their hottest hitter, pretty much. To me, that was the biggest pitch of the night.”
Philadelphia, which moved into a second-place tie with Montreal in the NL East, cut Atlanta’s lead to 7 1-2 games by beating the Braves 8-1 for the second straight night.
Thome’s 18th homer, an opposite-field solo shot to left off reliever Jung Bong, gave the Phillies a 6-1 lead in the sixth. Lieberthal’s fifth homer, a two-run shot off Kevin Gryboski, ended the scoring in the eighth.
“If we swing the bats the way we’re capable, we’ll win some baseball games,” manager Larry Bowa said. “When you get eight hits from our seven and eight hitters, it’s going to make it easier.”
Mike Hampton (3-4) allowed eight hits and five runs—four earned—in five innings. The left-hander, who held the Phillies hitless through 7 1-3 innings in a no-decision June 19 at Veterans Stadium, struck out six and walked three.
Wolf held the Braves hitless through 3 2-3 innings before Julio Franco’s RBI double cut the lead to 4-1. Wolf struck out Hampton with runners on first and third to end the fourth.
Philadelphia went ahead 4-0 in the fourth on Wolf’s RBI grounder and run-scoring singles by Rollins and David Bell.
Furcal fielded Wolf’s grounder and set his feet to throw to first before changing his mind and trying to get Tomas Perez at the plate. His throw was late and too far to Lopez’s left.
Hampton prevented worse damage in the fourth with a double play that included a strikeout of Jim Thome and a rundown that caught Rollins trying to steal home.
Lieberthal made it 5-1 in the fifth, leading off with a double and later scoring on Hampton’s wild pitch.
“Our offense is really starting to hit,” Lieberthal said. “They key isour offense. Our pitching is as good as anybody’s.”
Bowa decided to keep 2B Placido Polanco out of the lineup despite his career .455 average (15-for-33) against Hampton. … The Braves dropped to 15-16 against the NL East. They’re 34-11 outside the division. … The Bravesfell to 14-3 against left-handers this year.