Phillies 6, Braves 5, 1st game; Phillies 7, Braves 2, 2nd game

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ATLANTA (AP)—Jon Lieber won the game that completed a doubleheader sweep, then joined his teammates in pointing toward Philadelphia’s comeback in the opener.

“Just watching those guys battle back the way they did in the first game after being down like they were, that’s huge,” Lieber said.

Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins hit two-run homers and Lieber won his fourth straight decision to lift Philadelphia over Atlanta 7-2 Wednesday night.

In the opener, Atlanta left fielder Matt Diaz’s eighth-inning error allowed two runs to score as the Phillies rallied from an early five-run deficit to beat the Braves 6-5.

First baseman Ryan Howard said the sweep “means we’re on the up and up” in the wild-card race.

“Every game is important now,” Howard said. “We have to keep the same mindset.”

The sweep allowed the Phillies to gain one-half game on NL wild-card leader San Diego, which beat Cincinnati on Wednesday night. The Phillies are 1 1/2 games behind San Diego.

“The first game when we came back kind of set the tone for the day, I think,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

One day after their official elimination from the NL East race, the Braves’ wild-card hopes took a serious blow as they fell 6 1/2 games behind the Padres.

“That’s not what we hoped for,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Lieber (8-9) has four wins and three no-decisions since his last loss on Aug. 5. He pitched 7 1-3 innings and allowed eight hits and two runs. He struck out two with no walks.

“I definitely feel I’m a much better pitcher than I was in April or May,” Lieber said. “It’s exciting. One reason I signed here is to help this ballclub get into the playoffs.”

Rollins hit a two-run homer, his 20th, off Tim Hudson (12-11) into the Braves’ bullpen in the second inning.

“I’m not going to say winning the first game made the second game easier, but it did give us momentum,” Rollins said. “It put us on the right track.”

Ruiz hit his third homer in the third. Ruiz, a rookie catcher, gave the Phillies a 5-1 lead with a run-scoring single in the fifth.

Adam LaRoche hit his 31st homer for Atlanta in the first inning, but Lieber then blanked the Braves before Brian McCann’s 20th homer in the sixth inning.

In the Phillies’ ninth, Abraham Nunez drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single off Joey Devine.

In the first game, the Braves led 5-0 after two innings. Despite Gold Glove center fielder Andruw Jones robbing Howard of an early grand slam, the Phillies came back with three runs in the third and three in the eighth.

The Braves committed two errors in the eighth, allowing two unearned runs.

Rollins had three hits, including a single to spark the three-run eighth inning. When Jeff Francoeur bobbled the ball in right field, Rollins advanced to second. Shane Victorino followed with a run-scoring single off Macay McBride to cut Atlanta’s lead to 5-4.

McBride then struck out Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Chad Paronto (2-3) gave up a single to Jeff Conine before David Dellucci hit a liner to left. Diaz tried to catch the ball while backpedaling, but the ball skipped off his glove for his fourth error of the year as Victorino and Conine scored.

Rick White (4-1) struck out two in 1 2-3 perfect innings.

Tom Gordon pitched the ninth inning for his 29th save in 33 chances.

Overall, four Phillies relievers gave up no hits and three walks in seven scoreless innings. Eude Brito pitched four scoreless innings.

Jones doubled in a run in the Braves’ three-run first inning and took away a slam from Howard with a leaping catch in the third.

Phillies starter Randy Wolf had the shortest of his nine starts in his return from Tommy John surgery. He gave up gave up six hits and five runs, four earned, in two innings.

“It’s tough when you give up five runs early,” Wolf said. “Our bullpen did an incredible job.”

Kyle Davies hit his first career homer but allowed three hits and three runs in 2 2-3 innings.

Jones drove in Willy Aybar with a double. Wolf’s walk to Francoeur loaded the bases with one out. Diaz followed with a grounder to third. Nunez threw to second for one out, but Utley threw wildly to first as two runs scored for a 3-0 lead.

Davies, who had been 0-for-18 for the season, led off the second with his first career homer. Aybar followed with a double and scored on Edgar Renteria’s double to left for a 5-0 lead.

The Phillies chased Davies in the third. Davies hit pinch-hitter Joe Thurston with a pitch to lead off the inning before loading the bases, giving up a single to Rollins and a walk to Utley.

Howard followed with a deep drive that Jones caught by leaping with his glove over the yellow stripe at the top of the wall.

“I kept telling everybody to stop hitting it to center field,” Wolf said. “There’s a reason why he’s won 53 Gold Gloves. If you’re going to hit it to center, you better hit it 450 feet.”

Thurston scored on Howard’s sacrifice fly, and Conine added a two-run double to cut Atlanta’s lead to 5-3.

Notes

Rollins’ homer gave the Phillies their first double-play combination to each have 20 or more homers. Rollins has 20 homers and Utley has 28. … Jones’ double in the first game was the 300th of his career. … The teams were playing their third doubleheader in 12 days. The clubs split each of two doubleheaders in Philadelphia.

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