PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies' young players
again outdid Atlanta's heralded rookies.
Mike Lieberthal drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single
in the sixth inning, leading the Phillies to a 5-4 victory over the
Braves on Tuesday night.
The Phillies remained one game behind Florida in the NL
wild-card race. They have won two straight over East-leading
Atlanta and four of five overall since being swept by the Astros
"We're relaxed, we're not panicking and we're not getting
overly aggressive when we're down," said Billy Wagner, who earned
his 34th save in 37 chances with a scoreless ninth.
One night after Eude Brito pitched six scoreless innings in his
third career start, the Phillies again got contributions from their
youngsters. Rookie Ryan Howard homered and doubled, and Chase Utley
drove in two runs.
Gavin Floyd couldn't match Brito's performance, but kept
Philadelphia in the game, allowing four runs in five innings in his
eighth big-league start.
"Surprised? Not really," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
"As long as they stay focused on what they're doing, they can do
some good things for us."
Kenny Lofton went 3-for-3 with a triple and scored twice for
Andruw Jones had a three-run double for the Braves, increasing
his NL-leading RBI total to 124.
Atlanta has relied heavily on its rookies this season while
pursuing an unprecedented 14th consecutive division title. The
Braves have used 17 rookies, including 11 who made their major
league debut this season.
"You have to go out there and take care of business," Howard
Philadelphia's overused bullpen held Atlanta scoreless over the
last four innings. Aaron Fultz (4-0) tossed a perfect sixth, Ryan
Madson pitched the seventh and Ugueth Urbina worked the eighth,
before giving way to Wagner.
After the Braves scored four runs off Floyd to take a 4-2 lead
in the fifth, the Phillies scored three unanswered runs.
With one out in the sixth, Howard doubled to right-center off
Blaine Boyer (2-2). After David Bell flied out, Lieberthal lined a
single to right field. The heavy-footed Howard came charging around
third, testing Jeff Francoeur's strong arm. Francoeur, the leading
candidate for Rookie of the Year who came in tied for the NL lead
with 11 outfield assists, threw way up the line, allowing Howard to
Floyd, who pitched out of a jam in the fourth, got in trouble
again in the fifth by loading the bases with no outs. He struck out
Rafael Furcal looking at a slow curve and retired Marcus Giles on a
popup to second baseman Utley.
But Francoeur lined a single to right to cut it to 2-1, and
Jones followed with a bases-loaded double to left that gave Atlanta
a 4-2 lead.
Floyd escaped trouble in the fourth by striking out Jones and
Julio Franco with runners on second and third. He then retired Ryan
Langerhans on a fly to left to end the inning.
"When you lose two games in a row and when you get so many
opportunities to score some runs and you don't take advantage of
them, it can be frustrating," Jones said.
The Phillies scored twice with two outs in the fifth to tie it
at 4. John Thomson retired the first two batters, before Jimmy
Rollins doubled to left-center, extending his hitting streak to 19
games. Lofton drove him in with a single to center and scored on
Utley's double into the right-field corner.
Utley's RBI single in the first gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
Howard made it 2-0 when he led off the second with a shot deep into
the right-field seats. The slugging first baseman, playing for the
injured Jim Thome, has 17 homers, despite spending most of the
first three months in the minors.
It was an encouraging start for Floyd, despite allowing four
runs. Once considered a top prospect, Floyd struggled this season
at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The fourth overall pick in the
2001 amateur draft, Floyd began the year in the starting rotation
filling in for the injured Vicente Padilla. He went 1-1, was moved
into the bullpen, and hasn't been the same pitcher since. The
right-hander was 6-9 with a 6.16 ERA at Scranton.
Thomson gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings. He
remained winless since May 5, a span of only eight starts because
he missed three months with an injured finger.
"I felt strong. My location was good other than the pitch to
Utley and Howard," Thomson said.
Rollins' hitting streak is the longest for Philadelphia
since Lenny Dykstra hit in 23 straight in 1990. ... Braves 3B
Chipper Jones didn't start because of a strained left quadriceps.
He struck out in the ninth as a pinch hitter. ... Lofton was
1-for-14 against Thomson entering the game, before going 3-for-3.
... LF Pat Burrell earned a standing ovation for a sliding catch to
rob Langerhans leading off the sixth. ... Lieberthal threw out
Furcal trying to steal in the seventh.
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