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Braves hustle to win ninth straight

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- The Atlanta Braves had put up some big offensive numbers to forge a winning streak.

On Saturday the National League East leaders did some little things to extend it.

Dan Uggla, with an assist from the takeout slide of Paul Janish, legged out a potential double-play grounder in the 12th inning to drive in the winning run on Saturday as Atlanta won its ninth straight, 5-4 over the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Those two plays go unheralded and unnoticed," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "but we appreciate them. ... Both runners did their job to make it more difficult (for the Phillies)."

The Braves averaged seven runs a game over the first eight games of their streak, and nine in the last five. They have also been specializing in the big inning, scoring five or more in an inning in each of the last five games.

But on Saturday they managed just five hits against seven Philadelphia pitchers.

Justin Upton opened the 12th by drawing a walk from Jake Diekman (0-2) and advanced to second on Freddie Freeman's grounder to first. Diekman issued an intentional walk to Evan Gattis, Janish walked on four pitches and Justin DeFratus relieved Diekman.

Uggla hit a grounder to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who fired to second baseman Chase Utley for the force. But Janish slid hard into Utley, and Utley's throw to first pulled Kevin Frandsen off the bag, allowing Upton to score.

"You give Chase a clean look at the first-base bag," Gonzalez said, "they turn it and we don't score the run."

Luia Avilan (4-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the victory. Craig Kimbrel worked the bottom of the 12th for his 33rd save.

Philadelphia has lost four straight and 12 of its last 13 to fall to 50-60, the first time the Phillies have been 10 games under .500 since last August.

"I think it's up to us that we come out to play as hard as we can and play every day," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Although we're losing games, I think everyone on our team has something to really play for -- put up the best numbers and performance they can pitching and hitting-wise. I think that's the way most every team looks at it.

"You never know how many games you can win if you just come out and play as hard as you possibly can and play right. But right now we're having a hard time getting things going."

Utley drove in a first-inning run with a groundout for the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. made it 3-0 with a two-run homer in the second, his eighth home run of the year.

Upton blasted a solo homer off John Lannan in the third, his 19th home run of the season, and the Braves took a 4-3 lead with three runs in the fifth, two on Freeman's single.

That spelled the end for Lannan, who was working on short rest because of injuries in the Phils' rotation. He lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs (two earned) and four hits.

Brandon Beachy, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, was making his second start of the season and seeking his first victory since May 17, 2012. He retired 10 of the 11 hitters he faced during one stretch and held the Phillies hitless from the third through the sixth.

But Mayberry led off the seventh with a single, and after Carlos Ruiz sacrificed him to second Luis Ayala relieved Beachy. One out later, Rollins laced an RBI double to left, forging a 4-4 tie.

Beachy called his outing "a step in the right direction."

"I had a rough first couple innings," he said. "I was still feeling for it. I settled down and made some quality pitches."

NOTES: The Phillies' beleaguered bullpen allowed only one hit in 7 2/3 innings. ... Philadelphia LF Darin Ruf, who went 1-for-4, has reached base via hit, walk or hit by pitch in 31 consecutive games, the team's longest streak since Utley reached in 33 straight from Sept. 7, 2008, to April 22, 2009. ... Atlanta's Chris Johnson went 0-for-3 with two walks and saw an 11-game hitting streak end. Johnson also had a streak of eight straight multihit games halted. ... The Braves activated CF B.J. Upton from the disabled list before the game and C Gerald Laird was placed on the DL, retroactive to July 26. Laird recently had a kidney stone removed. Upton went 1-for-5. ... The Phillies honored their 1993 National League championship team before the game.
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