Braves 7, Phillies 2
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The Phillies thought they would be the team to finally overtake Atlanta in the NL East. Instead, a six-week slide has left them wondering what went wrong.
“We’ve got guys who come in every day expecting to win,” Wright said. “Whatever happened the night before, you don’t see it carry over around here. … I don’t know if I’ve ever seen something like this where everybody’s prepared to win.”
The Braves swept the two-game series and hold a 13 1/2 -game lead over the third-place Phillies in the NL East. It seems hard to believe now that they were tied for first in the division after splitting a two-game series July 19-20.
The Braves have won nine of 10. Philadelphia has lost 19 of 25.
“We just had to pick it up and start playing good baseball and we did,” Andruw Jones said.
With a brand new ballpark and a $93 million payroll that included a new All-Star closer, a revamped bullpen and a promising starting rotation, the Phillies were favorites to finally unseat Atlanta in the NL East.
Instead, for the 13th straight year, the Phillies and everyone else are looking up at the Braves.
“It’s difficult to take,” Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal said. “Obviously, they’re playing a lot better. Baseball is about streaks. They’ve had a great month. We haven’t.”
The latest example is Wright (14-6), who won his third straight start and improved to 12-1 since May 27. Wright walked none, struck out five and improved to 3-0 this year against the Phillies.
“I just tried to stay healthy all year,” Wright said. “My arm feels good and I’m going to try and keep it going.”
Wright also helped himself in the second inning, waiting on a hanging curveball from Vicente Padilla (5-7) and ripping an RBI single to left for a 2-0 lead. Rafael Furcal followed with a sacrifice fly.
Wright pitched out of his only serious jam with a 5-2 lead in the sixth. After allowing consecutive singles to Jason Michaels and Bobby Abreu to open the inning, Wright struck out Jim Thome, David Bell reached on a fielder’s choice and Placido Polanco also struck out looking to end the rally.
“He could have really gotten himself in trouble, but he made the pitches all night to get himself out of trouble,” catcher Johnny Estrada said.
Most of the fans filed out after that, with some screaming for top prospect Gavin Floyd, who makes his big league debut Friday. The novelty of the new park has worn off—there were several large patches of blue seats throughout the stadium in what was expected back in April to be a standing-room only crowd.
One even yelled, “Smarty Jones forever!”
Padilla allowed nine hits and five runs in five innings for the Phillies.
“When everything goes right, he’s unbelievable, but every time something goes wrong, his focus just leaves,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.
Andruw Jones crushed his 23rd homer of the year in the third, a solo homer to left for a 4-2 lead. Chipper Jones hit his 26th in the fourth inning to make it 5-2.
Chipper Jones added a two-run double in the eighth for a 7-2 lead.
Polanco had an RBI single and Lieberthal a sacrifice fly in the second inning for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound lefty slugging first baseman and the team’s minor league player of the year, struck out looking as a pinch-hitter in his first major league at-bat. … The Braves reached double digits in hits for the 12th straight game, the longest streak in the major since the Red Sox did it in 13 straight in 1999. … Braves 1B Adam LaRoche went 3-for-4 with two doubles. … The Braves recalled RHP Travis Smith and INF Wilson Betemit from Triple-A Richmond. … Philadelphia RHP Ryan Madson gave up two hits and an unearned run in one inning in a rehab assignment at Double-A Reading.
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