PHILADELPHIA (AP)—A strong outing by the starting pitcher. Another late-inning rally against a beleaguered bullpen. Two comeback wins in two games for the Atlanta Braves.
“It was great to help our pitchers out,” Thorman said. “They’ve been unbelievable and gave us a chance to win both games.”
In Monday’s season opener, Edgar Renteria hit a tying solo homer off starter Brett Myers in the eighth inning, and his two-run shot off Madson in the 10th gave the Braves a 5-3 win. Madson became the first pitcher to get the loss in both of his team’s first two games since Boston’s Bill Campbell in 1977, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Entering the season, the Phillies’ main weakness was their bullpen. So far, the relievers have been ineffective.
Gordon had 34 saves in 39 chances and went to the All-Star game in his first season with the Phillies, but was bothered by a sore shoulder and faltered down the stretch. Jeff Francoeur started the ninth with a double to center. McCann then hit a liner into the right-field seats.
“Our hitting is going to pick up and we’re going to win some games,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies wasted an outstanding effort by Cole Hamels, who pitched seven scoreless innings. Coming off an impressive rookie season, Hamels struggled in spring training. The left-hander allowed nine homers in only 20 2-3 innings while posting a 6.10 ERA.
But Hamels was sharp in his first outing that counted. He allowed just four hits, struck out eight and outdueled Tim Hudson on a blustery night.
“You’re not going to get any better pitched games than these two,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “Myers and (John) Smoltz then these two guys.”
Hudson had allowed just three runners—two walks and one hit batter— before Carlos Ruiz hit a solo homer with two outs in the fifth. Ruiz, bothered by a biceps injury late last month, drove a 1-1 pitch into the left-field seats for his fourth career homer in his 71st at-bat.
The Phillies added an insurance run in the eighth on Shane Victorino’s RBI double off Mike Gonzalez. Jimmy Rollins walked with one out, stole second base and advanced to third on catcher McCann’s throwing error. Victorino followed with a liner into the left-field corner to score Rollins. He was caught trying to steal third, a costly mistake because Howard walked and Chase Utley doubled.
Howard was thrown out at the plate on a perfect relay throw from second baseman Kelly Johnson to end the eighth after Utley’s double.
“Terrible. Bad play,” Manuel said of Victorino’s steal attempt. “He said it won’t happen again.”
Hudson gave up just one run and two hits in seven innings. The Phillies had six hits overall.
Howard, who hit three homers off Hudson in a game last September, was 0-for-2 with a walk against the veteran right-hander.
Phillies 3B Wes Helms made a throwing error on a grounder by Matt Diaz in the second inning. Helms started just five games at third base for Florida last year before the Phillies signed him to be the regular third baseman. … Fans continued to boo Pat Burrell each time he made an out. They cheered after he singled in the seventh.