Phillies 8, Brewers 2

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Jon Lieber pitched the way the Philadelphia Phillies desperately need him to if they expect to make a serious playoff push.

The veteran right-hander allowed two runs and struck out seven in seven innings, and Jimmy Rollins homered among his three hits and scored three runs in the Phillies’ 8-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night.

Chase Utley drove in three runs and Todd Pratt homered for the Phillies, who have won three of four and moved within 1 1/2 games of Houston in the NL wild-card race.

Russell Branyan homered for Milwaukee, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

Lieber (10-10) walked only one and allowed seven hits.

“Lieber threw good, 109 pitches is the farthest he’s gone in a while and it’s something we needed from him,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

It was a drastic turnaround for Lieber, who had been 1-6 since June 14 and got roughed up for nine runs in 4 2-3 innings in his last start against Colorado on July 31. All nine runs came in one inning.

“It was frustrating, but you put it in the past,” Lieber said. “I’m working on being more consistent. Now, I have to keep it going.”

Lieber had great command of his slider, which kept Milwaukee hitters off-balance.

“I was very happy with the breaking pitch. I had better location and it was sharper,” Lieber said.

Milwaukee starter Chris Capuano (12-7) lost for the first time since June 13 — a span of 10 starts.

Pratt broke a 1-all tie with a homer to left-center field, his seventh, in the fourth inning off Capuano. Two batters later, Rollins connected with a long homer to left, his ninth, to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

Rollins was the catalyst for a Phillies lineup that continues to pound left-handed starters. The team is 20-14 against lefty starters, including 11-5 at home.

“When he’s smiling, you know he’s getting on base and that’s good for us,” Manuel said of Rollins. “When he doesn’t get on, we look like a different offense.”

Capuano, who had won his last seven decisions, allowed four runs—three earned—on six hits over five innings. He walked four, struck out five and misplayed two balls hit back to him.

“I didn’t throw the ball well and didn’t field my position very well. That was embarrassing,” Capuano said.

Ramon Martinez hit a RBI ground-rule double, just beyond the reach of diving center fielder Brady Clark, to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead in the fifth.

Philadelphia secured the game in the sixth off reliever Rick Helling. Bobby Abreu delivered an RBI single and Utley followed with a two-run single.

Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead off Lieber in the second inning on Damian Miller’s RBI single. Geoff Jenkins scored on the play, sliding under the tag of Pratt.

Philadelphia tied it at 1 on Utley’s sacrifice fly in the third inning.

Notes

Lieber reached double-digits in wins for the sixth time in his career. Pratt’s career high for homers is eight, set in 2000 with the New York Mets. … Phillies 1B Jim Thome, out since July 1 with right elbow tendinitis, was the designated hitter for Class-A Clearwater on Saturday. No timetable has been set for his return. … Milwaukee’s Brady Clark and Rickie Weeks, 1-2 in the lineup, were a combined 0-for-16 in the series before back-to-back singles in the eighth.

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