Myers Beats Maddux as Phils & Braves Split Series

The Phillies offense reappeared Thursday night as they pounded Greg Maddux for the third time this season and sent the Braves to an 8-3 loss. The win moves the Phillies within one-half game of the idle Florida Marlins in the National League Wild Card race. Brett Myers handled the pitching, while Bobby Abreu and Chase Utley sparked the Phillies offense.

As unkind as the first inning has been to Greg Maddux this season, the Philadelphia Phillies love it just fine.

Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell delivered RBI singles in the opening inning and Brett Myers made the early lead stand with seven solid innings as the Phillies routed the Atlanta Braves, 8-3, and earned a split of the four-game series. The win also moved the Phillies to within one-half game of the Florida Marlins in the National League wild card race.

Maddux (14-11) was hoping to make history by recording a 15th win for the 16th straight season, but as has been the case nearly the entire season, the future Hall of Famer had trouble holding the opponent in check early on.

In 33 starts this season, Maddux has allowed 109 runs but 34 have come in the opening inning. He also surrendered three runs in the third and two more in the fourth, putting Atlanta in an early hole it did not dig out of. Maddox finished having allowed seven runs and 12 hits in 3 2/3 innings - his second shortest outing of the season. He will have to wait until his next start to break the record of 15 wins in 15 straight seasons that he shares with Cy Young.

Marlon Byrd and Abreu had three hits apiece and Burrell and Chase Utley each had two RBI for the Phillies. Burrell came through with a two-out RBI single in the third before Utley stroked a two-run homerun, his second of the season, to give the Phillies a 5-0 lead.

The Phillies tacked two more runs on the board in the fourth. Jim Thome drove home a run with a fielder's choice ground ball and Mike Lieberthal delivered an RBI single. Lieberthal's hit was the end of the night for Maddux, who was relieved by Trey Hodges. Hodges ended the inning without any further damage, but got into his own trouble in the fifth inning. Utley led off the fifth with a double and scored on Myers first double of the season to give the Phillies an 8-0 lead through five innings.

Myers (14-7) allowed two runs and seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four. His only true blemish was a two-run homer he allowed to Matt Franco in the fifth inning. Turk Wendell pitched the ninth inning and gave up a one out single to pinch-hitter Mark DeRosa, who went to second on a ground ball by Vinny Castilla. Henry Blanco then chipped in with an RBI single to score DeRosa, but Wendell came back to strike out Julio Franco to end the game.

The Braves' magic number for clinching an unprecedented 12th straight division title remains at six. The Braves and Marlins play a weekend series in Miami with the Braves sending Mike Hampton (13-7, 3.74) to the mound to oppose Brad Penny (13-10, 4.08) in the series opener. The Phillies travel to Pittsburgh to play three games against the Pirates. Amaury Telemaco (1-2, 3.48), who left his last start with a stiff neck, will go against Kip Wells (7-8, 3.59) Friday night. The Phillies and Marlins play a three game series in Philadelphia beginning next Tuesday night.

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