Just two hits by the offense and some lackluster defense led to another loss on Sunday, as the Phillies dropped the series finale to the Braves, by a score of 2-1.
Roughly a year following the Phillies contributing to Atlanta’s historic collapse down the stretch and missing the playoffs in 2011, it seemed to be the Braves that did in the Phils this time around, as the team that is primed to lock down a Wild Card spot took two of three games this weekend in south Philly.
While they are not completely done, the Phils now sit 4 1/2 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot with just nine games remaining on their schedule. And as you’ve heard endlessly for weeks, with three teams (St. Louis, Milwaukee and Los Angeles) in front of them for that coveted post-season berth, much cooperation will be necessary if the five-time defending NL East division champs are to make the playoffs once again. Atlanta is nine games ahead of St. Louis, who currently rank third in NL Wild Card standings.
Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee surrendered a run in the second inning, when outfielder David Ross slugged a homer to deep center. In the top of the 3rd, two singles and a fielding error by Lee loaded the bases with no outs. This set the stage for Atlanta to pad their lead, but they mustered just a lone run on a sacrifice fly by Dan Uggla.
The Phillies plated their run in the 7th frame, when Chase Utley drove in Jimmy Rollins with a sac fly of his own. Lee’s sacrifice bunt that pushed John Mayberry Jr. to second base in the third inning was the only other Phillie runner to advance past first base in the contest.
Following the game, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel acknowledged that the team still had life, although not much.
“The noose is getting tighter, but we’re still there. We’re still breathing,” said Manuel.
Nothing for Howard-
With a chance to become the fifth Phillie ever to slug a homer in five consecutive games, Howard stepped to the plate with two outs in the 9th inning, but fell victim to Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, fanning to post a 0-for-4 day.
Can’t handle Hudson-
Moving to 3-1 in five starts against the Phils this season, Hudson dominated on the mound, scattering two hits and a walk over 7 1/3 innings in the contest. The right-hander earned his 16th win of the season.
Lee sets record-
With his effort on Sunday (8 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 ER, , le11 K, 0 BB), the lefty Lee set a big league record by going 15 straight starts with at least six innings pitched and one or fewer walks allowed. Additionally for Lee, it marked the 23rd time in his career that he recorded double-digit strike outs.
Last year’s Braves collapse-
Leading the Wild Card standing by 8 1/2 games through September 5th last year, Atlanta lost 18 of their final 27 contest, including a three-game sweep by the Phils to close out the schedule, and were overtaken byeventual World Series champion St. Louis on the final day of the season.
Following a day off on Monday, the Phils will close out the regular season home schedule as they host playoff-bound Washington for a three game set beginning Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider. You can read more from Jay by checking out his site, PhoulBallz.com.