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May 2 2007

Both pitchers struggled early in last night's game between the Braves and the Phils.  Only one of them was around for the eighth inning.

The Braves jumped out on Cole Hamels for three runs in the first on two singles, two doubles and a home run.  They did it primarily by swinging at pitches early in the count, lest they find themselves at the mercy of Hamels' wicked change-up if they got behind.  And then Hamels bounced back.  Over the next 6 1/3 innings he allowed one run, which came on a solo homer with one out in the eighth.

Over the first two games of the series, Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones have combined to hit four home runs and drive in seven of the nine Braves' runs.

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 6-4 to improve to 12-14 on the year.  They are in fourth place in the NL East, four games behind the division-leading Braves.  They will try to win their third straight series tonight after splitting the first two with Atlanta.  They've gone 8-3 since starting the season 4-11.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went 7 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits and three walks.  Six of the hits went for extra-bases, four doubles and two home runs to Chipper Jones.   He struck out six.  In 40 2/3 innings this season Hamels has struck out 43.  He's second in the NL in strikeouts behind Jake Peavy. 

Hamels had a rough time in the first.  Kelly Johnson led off the first with a double to right and moved to third on a wild pitch.  Edgar Renteria popped to short for the first out, but Chipper Jones followed with a two-run blast that put Atlanta up 2-0.  Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur followed with back-to-back singles that put runners on first and second with one down.  Brian McCann doubled down the line in right.  Jones scored, but Werth got to it quickly and got it into Utley who made a perfect relay throw to Barajas.  Francoeur was out by a lot for the second out of the inning with Atlanta up 3-0.  Matt Diaz flew to center to end the inning.

Craig Wilson led off the second with a double.  Oscar Villarreal, who had replaced Braves' starter Mark Redman in the top of the second, bunted and lined it softly back to Hamels.  Hamels caught it threw to second.  Wilson appeared to be out but was called safe.   Johnson flew to center for the second out of the inning.  Renteria was next and singled into left.  Burrell fielded and his throw was cut by Helms at third.  Wilson was hanging near third, so Helms ran towards Renteria who was dangling between first and second.  Renteria was caught in a brief rundown at second and Wilson stormed home.  Utley threw home and another short rundown ensured in which Wilson was tagged to end the inning.

Hamels walked Andruw with one out in the third, but Francoeur grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

In the fourth, he struck out Brayan Pena to start the inning.  Diaz followed and hit a line drive to right that Werth misjudged and it got over his head.  Diaz was safe at second with a double, but Hamels struck out Wilson and pinch-hitter Chris Woodward to end the inning.

Hamels walked Johnson and Renteria to start the fifth, but got Chipper to ground into a double-play and Andruw on a ground ball to third.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 sixth and came back with a 1-2-3 seventh.  The seventh ended with Helms making a nice play to dive to his left to snag a hard grounder off the bat of Johnson and throw Johnson out at first. 

In the eighth, Hamels got Renteria on a ground ball to second but Chipper Jones hit his 105th pitch of the night out for his second home run of the night and third in two days.  With the righty Andruw Jones at the plate, Manuel called on Brett Myers.  Myers pitched the eighth in Monday's game but Manuel didn't bring him back to throw the ninth inning in a tie game -- if he had Myers probably wouldn't have been able to go last night.  Myers struck out Andruw, but Francoeur followed with a single up the middle.  Pena grounded to short to end the inning.

Flash Gordon started the ninth with a 6-4 lead, appearing in his first game since blowing the save on Friday against the Fish.  He struck out Diaz and Wilson for the first two outs.  Scott Thorman pinch-hit and hit it well to left-center, but Bourn tracked it down to end the game.

Myers is likely unavailable tonight after pitching in back-to-back games.  He threw just 11 pitches, but I don't think the Phils would pitch him three days in a row.  They shouldn't.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Mark Redman went (1) Rollins (2) Rowand (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Helms (7) Werth (8) Barajas.  Rowand back in the lineup after leaving last night's game early.  Werth gets the start in right against the lefty with Victorino on the bench.  Two lefties back-to-back with Utley and Howard followed by three righties.  Barajas catches Hamels. 

Rollins singled to start the first and moved to second on a walk from Rowand. Utley, Howard and Burrell all flew out to leave them stranded.

Down 3-0 in the second, Helms led off with a double.  Werth followed and singled to left, moving Helms to third.  Barajas reached on catcher's interference when he hit McCann's hand, moving Werth to second and loading the bases with nobody out for Hamels.  McCann had to leave the game and Brayan Pena came in behind the plate.  Hamels struck out, but with Rollins at the plate a passed ball moved everybody up a base with Helms scoring from third to make the score 3-1.  Rollins grounded to third, scoring Werth and making the score 3-2 with Barajas at second and two down.  Rowand brought Barajas in with a single to center.  3-3.  Utley followed with another hit, a single that moved Rowand to second.  Howard walked to load the bases and Burrell followed with another walk, this one on a close 3-2 pitch.  4-3 Phils.  That was it for Redman, Oscar Villarreal came in to pitch to Helms and struck him out to set the Phils down. 

The Phillies sent ten men to the plate.  Three singles, a double, two walks and a catcher's interference.  They leave the bases loaded.

Werth and Barajas walked back-to-back to start the third inning.  Hamels tried to bunt and got behind 0-2.  He showed bunt on Villarreall's 0-2 pitch, which was a breaking ball that hit him.  However, the umpires ruled that Hamels had tried to bunt the ball and was out on strikes.  Awful call that hurt the Phils, Hamels showed bunt but looked like he simply tried to get out of the way.  Rollins followed and struck out.  Rowand was next and came through again, this time with a single into left that scored Werth and sent Barajas to second.  5-3 Phils.  Utley grounded to first to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fourth. 

Barajas singled hard into left with one out in the fifth.  Hamels followed and hit it well into center, but Andruw tracked it down.  Rollins popped to shallow center to end the frame.

Utley doubled down the right field line with one out in the sixth.  The Braves put Howard on intentionally and Burrell hit into a double-play to set the Phils down.

Rod Barajas hit a solo homer with two down in the seventh, his second of the season.  6-3 Phils.  Hamels hit for himself having thrown 87 pitches.  He struck out.

Rollins singled to start the eighth and tried to steal second.  He left a little early and the Braves pitcher, Steve Colyer, threw to first.  Wilson threw to second and Rollins was out easily.  Replay showed Colyer clearly stepped towards the plate -- it should have been a balk.  Manuel came out to argue, which you can't do on a balk, and was ejected.  Rowand flew to right for the second out, but Utley looped a single over Johnson at second, putting a man on for Howard with two outs.  Utley tried to steal as well, but he also left too early.  Colyer threw to first and Utley was gunned at second to end the frame.

Howard led off the ninth with a walk and Bourn, who had entered as a defensive replacement for Burrell in the seventh, bunted.  It wasn't an especially good bunt, a couple of feet to the second-base side of the mound.  Colyer was a little slow off the mound and with the toss, though, and Bourn can fly.  He was safe a first with a single as Howard moved to second.  Righty Chad Paronto came in to pitch to Helms and struck him out.  Victorino, who came in to play right in the eighth, was next and hit a high chopper to first for the second out as Howard and Bourn moved to second and third.  Barajas walked to load the bases for Dobbs, who pinch-hit for Myers.  After getting ahead 3-0, Dobbs swung at an awful 3-1 pitch nearly in the dirt and then popped to second for the third out.  His back swing caught Pena in the head hard.

The Braves had to call on four relievers to go 7 1/3 innings in the game.  Hopefully the Phils can take advantage tonight. 

Jimmy Rollins was 2-for-5 with an RBI. 

Rowand was 2-for-4 with two RBI.  He starts May off nicely after hitting 378/462/622 with five homers in April.

Utley was 3-for-5 with a double.  He's hitting .311.  On April 21 he was hitting .231.

Howard was 0-for-2 with three walks and a strikeout. 

Burrell was 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.  0-for-his-last-14 with five strikeouts.

Helms was 1-for-5, struck out twice and left five men on base.  1-for-his-last-10 with five strikeouts. 

Werth was 1-for-3 with a walk and scored two runs.  He has one extra-base hit on the season. 

Barajas was 2-for-2 with two walks and a home run.  He's 4-for-his-last-5 with two home runs.  He's slugging .500 after 30 at-bats, which is fourth-best on the team behind Rowand, Rollins and Utley.

Freddy Garcia (1-1, 5.65) faces lefty Chuck James (3-2, 4.73) tonight.  Garcia will be making his fourth start of the year.  The longest of his first three has been five innings, so it's good news for the Phils that the pen is well-rested.  He has struck out 17 in 14 1/3 innings so far this season, but opponents have hit .322 against him.  Lefties in particular have killed him, hitting .423 while he's held righties to a .242 clip.  Over his career, in which he's pitched more than 1,600 innings, lefties have hit .259 against him.  Chuck James will be making his sixth start of the season.  He allowed one run between his first two, but his last three times out he's been hit harder, charged with 13 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings while being tagged for four home runs.  He faced the Phillies in his first start of the year, on April 5, and held the Phils to a run over five innings on six hits and a walk.  Righties are hitting .338 against him, lefties .212. 

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