ATLANTA (AP)—A year after a 9-0 record in Atlanta helped give Philadelphia momentum for its World Series championship run, three straight losses at Turner Field left the Phillies feeling flawed.
Diaz had his second straight three-hit game to lift the Braves to their fourth consecutive win. The Phillies are less than a percentage point ahead of Florida, .5131 to .5125, for first in the NL East.
“We need to turn it around at some point,” said first baseman Ryan Howard(notes) of the reeling Phillies, who have lost 12 of 15 to fall only two games over .500 and two games ahead of the fourth-place Braves.
“We’re just not playing good ball right now, plain and simple,” Howard said.
The Braves, who failed to beat the Phillies at Turner Field last season, completed their first home sweep of Philadelphia since April, 2005.
The Phillies were outscored 21-7 in the sweep and are 2-7 against Atlanta this season.
“Our whole game has got to come together,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’ve been playing bad baseball.”
The sweep brightened the Braves’ outlook.
Manager Bobby Cox said the Braves still have “a long way to go, but we’re happy with our position.”
The only promising signs for the Phillies were another strong start for J.A. Happ(notes), who gave up two runs in seven innings, and two hits by Jimmy Rollins(notes), who ended his career-worst 0-for-28 drought.
“Our game is not together,” Manuel said. “I’ve been saying it for two or three weeks. … We’re definitely losing games late.”
Philaelphia’s bullpen suffered losses in two of the three games in Atlanta.
With the score tied at 2, Brian McCann(notes) led off the eighth with a single off Ryan Madson(notes) (2-4). Pinch-runner Jair Jurrjens(notes) moved to second on Yunel Escobar’s(notes) sacrifice. Diaz followed with his run-scoring double to the center-field wall.
Happ, coming off his first career shutout in a 10-0 win at Toronto on Saturday, gave up a two-run homer to Casey Kotchman(notes) in the fourth inning before retiring the next seven batters. He gave up seven hits and two runs in seven innings.
The Phillies had a chance to take the lead in the eighth when Jayson Werth(notes) walked, stole second and advanced to third on McCann’s throwing error. Werth tried to score on Mike Gonzalez’s(notes) wild pitch to the screen. McCann recovered quickly and threw back to Gonzalez (3-0), who made the tag on Werth’s headfirst slide.
Replays were inconclusive, but Manuel said “He’s out.”
Cox said he thought Werth would be safe when he took off from third.
“I thought he would make it because he’s so good,” Cox said. “I like that kid a lot. He’s a gamer. He’s a manager’s dream, I think. But we made the play and got him out.”
Vazquez shut out the Phillies for five innings before giving up two runs in the sixth.
Vazquez gave up seven hits and two runs in 5 1-3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out five.
Greg Dobbs’(notes) double over Gregor Blanco(notes) in center field drove in Chase Utley(notes), who led off with a single. Reliever Peter Moylan(notes) gave up a tying groundout to Pedro Feliz(notes) to drive in Werth.
Diaz, making his second straight start in left field, led off the fourth with a single and scored on Kotchman’s two-run homer. It was only Kotchman’s third homer and his first since May 8 against the Phillies’ Brad Lidge(notes).
Rollins grounded out in his first at-bat before a single in the third inning for his first hit since June 18. He added a fifth-inning single.
NOTES: RHP Tim Hudson(notes) proclaimed he cleared his “last hurdle” after throwing 90 pitches in the bullpen before the game. Hudson, who had elbow ligament-replacement surgery on July 27, 2008, is scheduled for his first rehab assignment on July 19 at Class A Myrtle Beach. … Phillies OF Raul Ibanez(notes) (groin) had his first rehab game at Double-A Redding pushed back to Thursday or Friday.