ATLANTA (AP) — Omar Infante came in for injured Chipper Jones and lined a two-out, run-scoring single in the eighth inning to back Derek Lowe's best outing of the season, leading the Atlanta Braves to their eighth straight win, 2-1 over the slumping Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
The Braves finished off a three-game sweep of the defending NL champions and increased their lead in the East Division to 2½ games as they headed off on an 11-game road trip that could determine if they're a true contender for their first playoff appearance since 2005.
Lowe (8-4) went eight innings in his longest outing of the season, allowing six hits and the only Philadelphia run. Billy Wagner worked a scoreless ninth for his ninth save. Jose Contreras (2-2) took the loss.
The offense-challenged Phillies wasted a strong outing by Kyle Kendrick, who surrendered five hits and a run in the seven innings. Philadelphia never led in the series against the Braves and has failed to score more than three runs in a game while losing nine of its last 11, including four in a row.
Lowe escaped a jam in the top half of the eighth. Greg Dobbs led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a ground out. After Jayson Werth was walked intentionally, Lowe retired Wilson Valdez on a flyout to center.
The Braves took advantage of a nearly identical scoring chance in the bottom half. Nate McLouth, hitting only .179 coming into the game, drew a leadoff walk from Contreras. Melky Cabrera moved the runner along with a sacrifice bunt before Martin Prado took a called third strike.
After Jason Heyward was walked intentionally, Infante lined a single over leaping second baseman Chase Utley to drive in the winning run. Wagner worked around a walk in the ninth, striking out pinch-hitter Shane Victorino to end the game.
Infante started the day on the bench, but came on in the fifth inning after Jones left with an injured finger. The team said he had inflammation in his right ring finger and was day to day.
Lowe's only troublesome inning was the third. He gave up four singles — one when Kendrick faked a bunt, then squared around to line a hit into left, another when Valdez put down a perfect bunt. But Utley hit into a double play to keep the Phillies from the big inning they so desperately need.
The Braves started strong against Kendrick — back-to-back singles by Martin Prado and Jason Heyward put runners at first and third with no outs — but they managed only one run. Prado scored when Chipper Jones hit into a double play.
Raul Ibanez might have saved Kendrick a run in the second. Troy Glaus hit a towering drive toward the left-field wall, but Ibanez reached over the yellow line and kept it in play. He couldn't hang on for the out, but the ball fell back onto the warning track as Glaus coasted into second for a leadoff double.
He didn't get any farther. Eric Hinske took a called third strike, and Glaus was doubled off the bag after Yunel Escobar's liner up the middle was snagged by Kendrick.
NOTES: Kendrick had allowed no more than three earned runs in each of his eight career starts against the Braves. ... Utley came into the game hitting .444 in his career against Lowe but went 0-for-3 on Wednesday, never getting the ball out of the infield.