Phillies 9, Braves 1

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ATLANTA (AP)—Eric Milton wouldn’t mind facing the Atlanta Braves more often.

“I look at the lineup before the game and see who the nine players are and go from there,” Milton said. “Who’s in the lineup doesn’t matter. You have to focus on getting guys out—no matter who’s in the lineup.”

Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal homered to back seven impressive innings by Milton, and the Philadelphia Phillies ended a four-game losing streak with a 9-1 victory over the error-prone Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Milton (7-1) held the Braves scoreless after the first inning, allowing just one earned run and five hits overall. The left-hander, who faced a lineup minus Chipper Jones, J.D. Drew and Johnny Estrada, struck out five and walked two.

“Any time you can pitch with a lead, it’s a plus,” Milton said. “Things worked out the last couple of times. I’ll stick with what I’ve been doing.”

Pitching opposite Travis Smith (0-2) for the second time in six days, Milton retired 10 straight after Eli Marrero walked with two outs in the first. He also escaped a jam in the fifth with runners on first and second and one out when Nick Green popped up and Julio Franco grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Atlanta, which leads the majors with 50 errors, was done in by poor fielding and spotty pitching in the sixth. After Kevin Gryboski walked the bases loaded, third baseman Jesse Garcia was charged with a fielding error after letting Pat Burrell’s high grounder sail into left field, allowing two runs to score and make it 5-1.

After Lieberthal chased Gryboski with an RBI single, Juan Cruz allowed Jimmy Rollins’ three-run double for a 9-1 lead.

Milton has won five of his last six starts, but he’s been at his best against Atlanta. Acquired in a Dec. 3 trade with Minnesota, Milton beat the Braves 4-1 on Sunday, allowing three hits, one run, three walks and striking out eight.

Eddie Perez, whose RBI single in the first made it 2-1, doubled in the sixth, but was stranded when Milton forced Mike Hessman to popped up to Lieberthal.

Abreu’s 12th homer, a two-run shot in the first, gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Lieberthal led off the sixth with his sixth home run to make it 3-1. Lieberthal’s homer and RBI single improved his career average at Turner Field to .374 (61-for-163) with 11 homers and 51 RBIs.

“I do see the ball well here,” Lieberthal after raising his season average seven points to .231. “Last night, I felt good. Hopefully, I have something.”

Smith, filling in for injured starter Horacio Ramirez, allowed six hits, three earned runs and one walk. He struck out six and threw 69 of his 109 pitchers for strikes. The last time he faced the Phillies, Smith gave up a solo homer to David Bell.

“Basically, I’ve made three mistakes and they’ve all been home runs and they cost me,” Smith said. “I just need to make sure I throw every pitch with conviction and make sure I throw the ball down in the zone. A groundball’s a lot better than a two-run home run.”

The 31-year-old right-hander, who entered with a career record of 4-3 and a 6.53 ERA, made just his 13th start since debuting for St. Louis in 2002.

“I like the way he throws,” said Perez, filling in at catcher for Estrada. “He just made two mistakes today, the slider on Lieberthal and the changeup on Abreu, and I talked to him about that. I think he was worried too much about the runner at second. That’s why he threw that changeup like that, but he threwgood again.”


Braves manager Bobby Cox gave Drew and Estrada the day off. Jones, nursing a tight hamstring, hasn’t played since Tuesday. … After grounding into four double plays Thursday, the Phillies had just one when Burrell did so in the sixth. … Milton hadn’t allowed a run or hit this year in the firstuntil Green singled and scored on Perez’s RBI.

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