Braves 4, Phillies 2

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ATLANTA (AP)—Something about losing big brings out the best in the Atlanta Braves.

Javy Lopez homered to give the Braves a franchise-record 216 homers this season, and Atlanta rebounded from a big loss to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 Wednesday night.

A day earlier, Philadelphia won 18-5, the fifth time this season the Braves have lost by 10 or more runs. Each time, they’ve bounced back to win the next game.

“It’s not a coincidence,” Lopez said. “This is what makes this team better. Once you bounce back, you know you’ve gotten rid of all the frustration from the night before.”

Philadelphia dropped one game behind Florida in the NL wild-card race, and Atlanta lowered its magic number to clinch the NL East to six.

“We’ve had a fire lit all year,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “That’s not going to change. You have to worry about yourself. You can’t worry about other people.”

Horacio Ramirez (10-4) won his second straight decision, allowing six hits in seven innings. He gave up solo homers to Pat Burrell in the second and Tomas Perez in the seventh, and struck out seven without walking a batter.

It was the second strong start in a row for the rookie left-hander, making a bid to be included in the postseason roster. The previous time out, he held Pittsburgh to one earned run and three hits in nine innings.

“I’m just happy to be here,” Ramirez said. “Last year at this time, I was in the Instructional League. I have a lot to play for.”

The decision on who pitches in October could narrow to between Ramirez and veteran Shane Reynolds, who’s been hit hard in two straight starts. In 7 1-3 innings during those two games, he’s allowed 11 runs on nine hits.

“I’m not thinking about it, I’m really not,” Ramirez said. “I’m still trying to finish strong.”

Lopez lined a 2-2 pitch from Vicente Padilla (13-10) to the seats in center, tying the game at 1 in the second. It was Lopez’s 39th homer this season, leaving him two shy of the major league record for a catcher. Todd Hundley hit 41 for the New York Mets in 1996.

“I just don’t want to think about it,” Lopez said. “I’m just trying to make good swings on every pitch. If it happens, it’ll be good.”

The major league record for homers in a season is 257, set by the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. The Houston Astros hold the NL mark at 249, set in 2000. Atlanta hit 215 homers in 1998.

Lopez finished 3-for-4, and Chipper Jones also had three hits for the Braves, who won for the fourth time in five games.

Will Cunnane pitched the ninth for his third save in three chances in place of closer John Smoltz, in Birmingham, Ala., to rehab his injured pitching elbow. Smoltz, on the disabled list for two weeks with tendinitis, is being treated by orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

The Phillies lost for only the third time in 13 games since a six-game losing streak, and they still have six games left this season against the Marlins.

“You want to win every day, especially when there’s just 16 days left,” first baseman Jim Thome said. “Even though we have games against them, you have to take care of business before you get there. You keep fighting. The baseball season has a lot of ups and downs. We were playing a good team, and they played well.”

Burrell’s homer gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead, and Lopez tied it with a 408-foot shot in the bottom half.

Gary Sheffield singled home Rafael Furcal in the third to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead, and Chipper Jones scored on a double by Andruw Jones in the fifth.

After a run-scoring single Chipper Jones in the sixth, Perez cut the lead to4-2 with a home run with two outs in the seventh.


Atlanta INF Mark DeRosa started for the third straight night, giving 3B Vinny Castilla the night off. DeRosa started the first two games of the series at second and short. … Phillies CF Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the first. … Thome struck out three timesagainst Ramirez and four times in all.

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