PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Determined to stay on top, the Philadelphia Phillies are playing their best down the stretch.
The Phillies reduced their magic number for clinching their second straight division title to four after the New York Mets lost 9-5 to the Cubs to fall 2 1/2 games back. Philadelphia’s magic number for clinching a playoff berth is three.
“There’s been a couple points during the season when we weren’t playing to our potential,” Burrell said. “Right now we’re going pretty good.”
Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer for the Braves, who helped the Phillies by winning two straight against the Mets over the weekend.
With the score tied at 2, pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs singled off Jeff Bennett (3-7) to start the bottom of the eighth. Greg Golson ran for Dobbs and scooted all the way to third when Bennett’s pickoff attempt sailed down the right-field line.
After Bennett retired Jimmy Rollins on a sharp grounder to second, Chase Utley was intentionally walked. Jayson Werth then hit a hard grounder to third baseman Martin Prado’s right. Prado made the backhanded play, but Golson beat the throw home, sliding under Clint Sammons’ tag.
“Sammons didn’t get in front of the plate or the guy’s an easy out,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
Burrell ripped a two-out shot off Julian Tavarez to the seats in left to extend the lead to 6-2. The struggling Burrell, who came in batting .176 since Aug. 1, got a curtain call from a towel-waving crowd.
The Phillies were four games behind wild card-leading Milwaukee and trailed the Mets by 3 1/2 after losing to Florida on Sept. 10. Then they swept a four-game series against the Brewers at home and followed with a 5-1 road trip.
“I think things can go our way,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We got five games left. That’s what we’re looking at.”
Fans waved their white-and-red “Fightin’ Phils” rally towels while keeping a close eye on the scoreboard. They stood and cheered when Cubs pitcher Jason Marquis hit a grand slam to give Chicago a 6-2 lead over the Mets in the fourth inning at Shea Stadium.
Even reliever Rudy Seanez got a rare standing ovation and exited to chants of “Rudy” in the eighth.
Johnson led off the inning with a double to right that just eluded the diving Werth. He went to third when center fielder Shane Victorino kicked the ball for an error.
But Seanez retired Omar Infante on a liner to shortstop Rollins. Jeff Francoeur followed with a high bouncer to Rollins, who threw out Johnson at the plate. Scott Eyre (5-0) came in to get the final out.
Phillies starter J.A. Happ allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander beat the Braves last week for his first win in the majors.
Happ took a shutout into the sixth. He walked Prado to start the inning. Johnson followed with a deep drive to the seats in right to tie it at 2. Johnson extended his career-best hitting streak to 20 games with his homer.
“This is what we dream about in the minors, getting a chance to come up and prove ourselves,” Happ said.
The Phillies improved to 14-2 against the Braves with two games remaining. They were 9-0 in Atlanta.
“I can’t remember a team beating us like this,” Chipper Jones said.
Jurrjens allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings.
Third baseman Pedro Feliz made a diving stop to his left on Prado’s grounder leading off the fourth and threw him out from his knees.
Utley reached 100 RBIs for the fourth straight season. … The Phillies extended their club-record streak to 18 consecutive games with a homer. … Johnson’s 20-game hitting streak is the longest in the NL this season. … Jones wasn’t in the starting lineup for the third straight game because of right shoulder inflammation. He singled as a pinch hitter in the ninth.