PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Hip-hop music blared in the clubhouse, and players walked around smiling and joking for change.
The Philadelphia Phillies know what a winning streak feels like, and now they’re starting over 28 games into the season.
“Right now we’re at 0-0. Tomorrow is like the first game all over again,” Howard said.
Andruw Jones had two RBIs for Atlanta, which has lost seven of its last 10 games. Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, counting a hit in the final game last season.
“We’re just not doing the little things,” Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur said.
Lidle (3-3) allowed three runs—two earned—and five hits. Aaron Fultz pitched a scoreless seventh. Geoff Geary and Rheal Cormier worked the eighth, and Arthur Rhodes finished for his first save in his first opportunity. Rhodes filled in for closer Tom Gordon, who is a perfect 9-for-9 in save chances but had pitched in the last four games.
“We need to stay focused and keep playing the way we’re playing,” Lidle said. “We’re a great team. We’re pretty underrated.”
For the first month, the Phillies were underachievers. They started 1-6 and having been catching up ever since.
“We finally got to .500,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We plan on staying there.”
John Thomson (0-2) gave up five runs—four earned—and eight hits in six innings to remain winless in five starts. Thomson came in leading the majors with a 1.32 ERA, but had the lowest run-support in the NL at 1.98 runs per game.
“For this ballpark, it was a fair outing,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
Howard gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead with a sacrifice fly in the third inning, and hit an opposite-field homer in the sixth to make it 5-3. Shane Victorino added an RBI single in the eighth to cap the scoring.
The Braves went ahead 3-2 in the third on a sacrifice fly by Andruw Jones. Renteria reached second base when catcher Mike Lieberthal dropped his pop-up for an error, advanced to third on Chipper Jones’ single and scored on Andruw Jones’ fly to left.
Pat Burrell’s one-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning drove in Rollins to tie it at 3. Howard’s sacrifice fly to center field scored Bobby Abreu to put the Phillies ahead. Rollins and Chase Utley started the inning with consecutive singles. Abreu reached on a fielder’s choice.
After the Braves scored twice in the first inning, Rollins lined an 0-2 pitch into the right-field seats to start the bottom half. Rollins passed Juan Samuel to set the franchise record for career leadoff homers with 15.
With one out and runners at first and third, Howard hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie it at 2. Burrell, thinking there were two outs, was easily doubled off first base, but the run counted because it came before the third out was recorded.
The Braves took a 2-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Andruw Jones and Adam LaRoche’s RBI double.
Renteria has a hit in each of the 19 games he’s played this year, sandwiched around nine games he missed with an injured rib cage. … Lieberthal left the game with a bruised left knee after he was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning. … Utley was called out trying to steal second base by umpire Troy Fullwood in the first inning, though replays clearly showed he was safe. It didn’t matter because Abreu walked on the pitch. … Rhodes’ last save was June 8, 2004 for Oakland against Cincinnati.