Phillies 8, Braves 3

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ATLANTA (AP)—Greg Maddux didn’t get the calls early, and he never recovered.

Bobby Abreu had three hits and Chase Utley homered—all in the first three innings—as the Philadelphia Phillies denied Maddux his 15th win of the season with an 8-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

“I felt good, probably the best I’ve felt in a month,” Maddux said. “I thought I made some good pitches that I gave up singles on, and I made some bad pitches that I gave up doubles and home runs.”

Philadelphia pulled within a half-game of idle Florida in the NL wild-card race. Marlon Byrd finished 3-for-5, and Pat Burrell had two hits and two RBIs.

“You have to take care of your own business,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said. “You can’t worry about other people. It’s nerve-racking when you play bad.”

Brett Myers (14-7) shut the Braves down for seven innings, allowing seven hits, including a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Matt Franco in the fifth. Myers won his third straight decision.

Gary Sheffield went 3-for-4 for the Braves and Marcus Giles doubled twice, tying the modern franchise record with 47 this season. Tommy Holmes also hit 47 in 1945 when the team was in Boston.

Maddux (14-11) has won at least 15 games for 15 straight seasons, tied with Cy Young for the longest streak ever. His next win gives him the record, but the Phillies postponed any celebration until at least Maddux’s next start, which is scheduled to come Tuesday in Montreal.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said Maddux probably will get two starts after that.

“It doesn’t matter,” Maddux said of the record. “It has nothing to do with pitching. I don’t think it affected anything I did mentally or physically to prepare for this game.”

He left after 3 2-3 innings and allowed seven runs on 12 hits, his second-shortest outing of the season. He lasted only two innings against the Marlins on April 5.

That came during a dreadful start for Maddux, who lost three in a row before earning his first win. He recovered and was 8-2 with a 2.68 ERA in his previous 12 starts, but he didn’t have much of a chance Thursday night.

The first inning symbolized Maddux’s problems. Byrd beat out a dribbler down the third-base line and stole second two pitches later. He moved to third on a groundout by Jimmy Rollins.

Maddux quickly threw two strikes to Abreu, but when the count went to 1-2, two pitches close to the inside corner were called balls. Each time, Maddux subtly showed his displeasure, mostly toward himself, and Abreu singled on the next pitch to score Byrd.

Abreu then stole second, and later scored on Burrell’s single for a 2-0 lead.

“We had Abreu struck out on at least one of those pitches,” Cox said. “Instead of a two-run inning, they don’t get anything.”

In the bottom half, Giles doubled with one out, but made an ill-advised attempt to steal third with Sheffield at the plate. Giles was called out on a close play, and Cox came out to argue and was ejected by third-base umpire Chuck Meriwether.

It was the ninth time this season Cox has been tossed.

Before he left, Cox stopped by to discuss the strike zone with plate umpire Tim Welke, gesturing emphatically with his foot on the first-base side of the plate, where those two pitches to Abreu were called balls.

But Maddux said neither pitch was a clear strike in his view.

“The pitch to Abreu, that pitch can go either way,” he said. “I don’t think I threw any obvious strikes that were called balls and I don’t think I threw any obvious pitches outside the strike zone that he called strikes.

“I wouldn’t mind having the same umpire five days from now.”

Sheffield promptly tripled to right-center, but Myers retired Chipper Jones on a comebacker to end the inning.

“I didn’t give much thought to Maddux,” Myers said. “I’m sure he’s going to get his 15 wins. There’s nothing I can do to help that.”

Maddux ran into more trouble in the third. Burrell brought in Abreu with a broken-bat single, and Utley followed with his second homer of the season, a two-run shot.

In the fourth, Maddux gave up two runs on four singles and a fielder’s choice, leaving after Mike Lieberthal singled home Rollins for a 7-0 lead.

Maddux walked slowly to the dugout and received a standing ovation. None of his teammates met him at the top of the steps, and he headed straight for the clubhouse.

“I know how to lose,” Maddux said. “You have to know how to lose just like you have to know how to win. I’ll try to improve on some things that Ididn’t do, and I’ll try to repeat some of the things that I did right.”

Notes

A 20-minute ceremony was held before the game in honor of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Three blackhawk helicopters from the Georgia National Guard did a flyover at the end of the national anthem. … Atlanta 1B Robert Fick went 0-for-3 and is in a 9-for-72 slump. … The Phillies head to Pittsburgh for a three-game series, completing Philadelphia’s run of playing on 27 straight days. Monday is the first day off for thePhillies since Aug. 18.

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