Braves 4, Phillies 0

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Normally a strong second-half pitcher, Mike Hampton got a head start this year.

Hampton pitched eight shutout innings and rookie Charles Thomas homered twice, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 4-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

“I don’t look too much into it, but I’m glad I do,” Hampton said of his penchant for second-half turnarounds. “Mentally, that helps me. That’s great because I know better things are yet to come.”

Hampton (4-8) allowed five hits and struck out five, and walked two. It was his longest outing since throwing a complete game in a loss to Arizona on May 18. Hampton beat Philadelphia for the first time since Sept. 23, 2000, when he was a member of the New York Mets.

It was also the first time the Phillies have been shut out in 47 games at Citizens Bank Park.

“It seems like every time he pitches against us, he throws good,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said about Hampton, who allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings in Philadelphia on May 28. “We only had a couple of opportunities.”

A day after blowing his second save of the season, John Smoltz pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.

“Just a tremendous game after a pretty darn tough loss (on Friday night),” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Phillies starter Paul Abbott (0-3) went six innings, allowing five hits and just two runs on solo homers by Thomas and Rafael Furcal.

Hampton held the Phillies hitless for the first three innings, then worked out of jams in the next three. He allowed one runner in the seventh and retired the side in order in the eighth.

The win was the Braves’ 11th in their last 14 games and pulled them within two games of the first-place Phillies.

Like Hampton, Atlanta has shrugged off a slow start and appears ready for a late-season run at another division title.

”(Winning) trickles down through the minor leagues,” Hampton said. “The kids that we bring up, it’s kind of built into them, born into them that you’re expected to fill in. The guys that we’ve called up to replace our key players have stepped in and done an outstanding job, probably better than anybody could have expected.”

Guys like Thomas, who singled in his first at-bat and made a diving catch in the first inning before driving a first-pitch fastball to left-center for his second homer in the third inning. After Hampton flied out, Furcal lined his 10th homer into the seats in right to make it 2-0.

Thomas, who was leading the International League in batting when he was called up on June 23, got his first career multihomer game when he crushed a 1-0 pitch off reliever Rheal Cormier to right for a two-run homer in the seventh.

“Charles made a great play in left-center and he hits the ball pretty good every at-bat,” Cox said. “We all should learn from his setup at the plate. It’s something you preach forever.”

Thomas, still smothered in shaving cream from the postgame celebration, appeared stunned by Cox’s compliment.

“Really? I haven’t heard that one before,” Thomas said. “I’m watching the other guys.”

Furcal hit a pair of three-run homers in Friday’s 7-6 loss, including one that replays showed was clearly foul, but called fair by umpire Gerry Davis.

When Furcal led off Saturday’s game with a foul ball down the right-field line, the crowd let out a mock cheer for first-base umpire Rob Drake’s call.

Davis, the third-base umpire Friday, made another controversial call in the fifth inning, when he awarded Philadelphia’s Doug Glanville second base after Glanville collided with the Braves’ Adam LaRoche in a rundown. Davis determined that LaRoche obstructed Glanville’s attempt to get back to first.

Glanville advanced to third with two outs, but was stranded there when Hampton got Jimmy Rollins to ground out.

The Phillies had runners at first and second with one out in the sixthbefore Pat Burrell flied out and David Bell popped out to second.

Notes

Phillies RF Bobby Abreu stole his team-high 19th base in the fourth inning. He has been caught only once this year. … Atlanta RF J.D. Drew extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single. … Braves 3B Chipper Jones flied out to center in his first three at-bats. CF Andruw Jones struck out in all four plate appearances. … Thomas’ homer off Cormier was the first by a left-handed hitter off the Phillies reliever since May 17,2002.

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