Phils Get Some Unlikely Heroes In 3-2 Win

Just when all the world looked bleak and seemed as though the Phillies would lose two-of-three to the hated Atlanta Braves, the sun appeared and shone Phillies red. Facing the best closer in the game, the Phillies pounded out a ninth inning run for a come from behind 3-2 win over the Braves in an afternoon contest at Veterans Stadium. And, who would have thought that Marlon Byrd and Pat Burrell would appear as the Phillies knights in shining armor, helping to slay the big, bad Braves of Atlanta.

It looked as though Mike Hampton and Gary Sheffield were all the Braves really needed to beat the Phillies Thursday afternoon. Sheffield launched two homeruns off starter Vicente Padilla and Hampton no-hit the Phillies for seven innings, with only a couple of balls coming anywhere near close to being the one that would spoil Hampton's afternoon.

Padilla's only problem in his 7 1/3 innings of work were to pitches to Sheffield. The first was nearly as high as Sheffield's shoulders, but the big man deposited it into the left field seats, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Two innings later, Padilla threw one down near Sheffield's ankles and that ball wound up in the Braves bullpen, just clearing the fence and going just right of the foul pole, giving Atlanta a 2-0 lead. Padilla worked into the seventh, but was lifted in favor of Turk Wendell, who recorded the final two outs of the inning.

Meanwhile, Hampton had been touched by just three walks and breezed his way through the seventh, using a great defensive play by second baseman Mark DeRosa and making a couple of good plays himself to keep the Phillies in trouble. Hampton put away Todd Pratt to start the eighth, bringing Marlon Byrd to the plate. Byrd lined a single into right field to at least spoil Hampton's no-hit bid. Pinch hitter Tomas Perez then followed with a base hit and suddenly the Phillies had runners on first and second with one out. That's when Bobby Cox decided that enough was enough and called on his closer, John Smoltz (0-1) to get the final five outs. Smoltz struck out Bobby Abreu, but issued a wild pitch in the process, putting runners on second and third. Placido Polanco then barely looped a hit just out of reach of both Robert Fick and DeRosa to score both runners and tie the game at 2-2. Smoltz retired Jim Thome to end the inning without any further damage.

Jose Mesa (2-4) came on to pitch the ninth and started with a 3-0 count to Fick before he came back to get Fick on a fly ball to Abreu. Mesa then retired Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla with no problem. Phils manager Larry Bowa did have a problem in the inning, getting himself tossed from the game for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. As Pratt walked to the mound to settle down Mesa after a close call went against him, home plate umpire Terry Craft turned to the Phillies dugout and ejected Bowa, who then ran onto the field and engaged in a lengthy argument with Craft, who refused to even listen to Bowa. The argument didn't end until Bowa had thrown his hat in the dirt around home and covered the plate with dirt.

The Phillies had Pat Burrell, David Bell and Jimmy Rollins set to face Smoltz in the ninth. The three came into the inning with a combined 1-20 record against Smoltz. Burrell started the rally with a double off the left-center field fence. Jason Michaels came in to pinch run for Burrell at second as Bell failed to get the runner advanced to third. Rollins then came up and punched a base hit to right, scoring Michaels with the game winning run, giving Smoltz only his second blown save and his first loss of the season.

The Phillies now start a three-game weekend series against Boston. Randy Wolf (8-3, 3.30) will go up against Byung-Hyun Kim (1-0, 5.57) Friday night.


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