Braves fall back into wild card tie with loss to Phils
Atlanta, GA – Atlanta's once healthy wild card lead is no setting Phillies, 7-1, and the Cardinals came back and beat the Astros later Tuesday night.
The Cardinals trailed the Braves by 10 1/2 games on August 25, but polar opposite performances in September has the clubs all square atop the wild card standings heading into the regular season finale.
Atlanta has a 9-17 mark in September to blame, including losses in seven of its last nine.
Philadelphia, responsible for five of its division rivals' losses in the last month, matched a club record with 101 wins, set a franchise mark with 49 road victories and saw manager Charlie Manuel match Gene Mauch for first place on the club's all-time wins list.
Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence all homered for the five-time NL East champions, while Roy Oswalt (9-10) hurled six scoreless innings.
Derek Lowe (9-17), the embodiment of Atlanta's collapse, was tagged for five runs on six hits in four-plus innings, falling to 0-5 in September with an 8.75 earned run average.
"It's just been a long year, my worst year by far. But with that being said, this isn't about me, it's about our team. We still have a chance," Lowe said.
That chance rests on the arm of veteran Tim Hudson, who will start opposite Joe Blanton in the regular season finale Wednesday. If a tiebreaker is needed, St. Louis will host Atlanta on Thursday.
Atlanta will start veteran Tim Hudson in the regular season finale, while Philadelphia will counter with Joe Blanton.
The Phillies, winners of three straight since a season-long eight-game skid, jumped on Lowe in the first inning via Utley's solo shot to center.
The visitors pushed two more across in the third on Rollins' RBI single through the right side and Pence's sacrifice fly.
Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez each singled to begin the fourth, and the former scored on Placido Polanco's sacrifice fly.
Lowe exited to a mix of sarcastic clapping and boos from the Turner Field crowd after yielding a leadoff single to Rollins in the fifth. Three batters later, Pence took Arodys Vizcaino deep to left-center for his 22nd home run and a 6-0 cushion.
"It's always nice to put some runs on the board, especially early. Lately our pitchers have been having to go eight innings just to see one run get on the board," Rollins said.
Julio Teheran surrendered Rollins' blast in the seventh, and the only hit the Braves managed off Philadelphia's bullpen was Martin Prado's home run off Kyle Kendrick in the ninth.
The Phillies won 101 games in 1976 and '77 and had 48 road wins in 1976 and 2009...Manuel and Mauch each have 645 wins, with the latter managing from 1960-68...Rollins had three of the Phillies' nine hits. With a steal in the third, he reached 30-plus stolen bases for the ninth time in his career...Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez left the game early with a right calf strain...Philadelphia leads the season series, 11-6.