Phils Smack Smoltz Again To Snap Losing Skid

Who's afraid of John Smoltz? Not the Phillies. Two of Smoltz' four blown saves have come against the Phillies as they handed him another one in Saturday's 7-6 win over Atlanta. Jim Thome had two homeruns and a double that led to the Phillies winning run in the tenth inning. The game also marked the major league debut of Ryan Madson, who threw two perfect innings.

The Atlanta Braves are hoping John Smoltz is just shaking off the rust. Jimmy Rollins and Bobby Abreu hit back-to-back RBI doubles off Smoltz in the bottom of the ninth and Chase Utley delivered a game-winning single in the 10th as the Philadelphia Phillies snapped a six-game losing streak and spoiled Javy Lopez's record-setting afternoon with a 7-6 victory.

Smoltz, who missed nearly a month with tendinitis in his right elbow, had made three appearances for the Braves since returning from the disabled list, tossing 2 1/3 flawless innings. But in this one, the dominating closer had his share of troubles.

With Atlanta holding a two-run lead, Smoltz struck out Tomas Perez before pinch hitter Jason Michaels stroked a single. Marlon Byrd was set down on three pitches, but Rollins doubled to deep right-center field to plate Michaels and scored on Abreu's two-base hit to deep center, knotting the game at 6-6 and handing Smoltz his fourth blown save in 49 chances. Two of those blown saves have come against the Phillies.

Ray King (3-4) threw one pitch in the 10th before leaving with an apparent left shoulder injury. Jim Thome, who earlier had homered twice and posted the highest RBI total by a Phillie since 1932, ripped King's lone pitch to right for a double and moved to third on Pat Burrell's flyout. Trey Hodges threw three straight balls to Utley before the rookie second baseman slapped a shot off the glove of shortstop Jesse Garcia for a single, plating Thome with the winning run. Rheal Cormier (8-0) gained the win, tossing a perfect top of the 10th.

Lopez set the major league record for most home runs in a season by a catcher, belting his 42nd in the second inning. Lopez, who homered as a pinch hitter against the New York Mets on July 20, broke the mark set by the Mets' Todd Hundley in 1996.

The Phillies trailed 5-1 at one point. Amaury Telemaco started for the Phillies and gave up three runs in two innings of work. Back-to-back homeruns from Lopez and Julio Franco along with an RBI single from Rafael Furcal gave the Braves a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Telemaco didn't allow and runs in the second, but Brandon Duckworth replaced him to start the third inning.

The Braves got to Duckworth for a run in the third. Gary Sheffield reached on an infield single and went to second on a ground ball by Chipper Jones. Andruw Jones then doubled to score Sheffield with Atlanta's fourth run of the game. Sheffield faced Duckworth again in the fifth and launched a solo homerun, his 39th of the year.

The Phillies picked up their first run on Thome's first homerun of the day, but trailed 5-1 going to the bottom of the fifth. Utley walked and scored on Tomas Perez' double. Perez went to third on a ground ball and scored on a wild pitch from Darren Holmes as the Phillies chipped away at the Braves lead.

Rookie Ryan Madson made his major league debut in the sixth and pitched two perfect innings before being lifted for pinch-hitter Kelly Stinnett in the bottom of the seventh. Another rookie pitcher, Geoff Geary, made his fifth major league appearance and allowed one run in two innings of work.

Thome's second homerun of the day made it 5-4 after eight innings. Thome now has 47 homeruns on the season, putting him on the top of the National League leaderboard for homeruns. It also leaves him one away from Mike Schmidt's single season record of 48 homeruns in a season.

The Phillies come back in the ninth and walk-off run in the tenth sent the sellout crowd of 58,303 home happy. Sunday's crowd will be at least as large, to close out the Phillies history at Veteran's Stadium. Sunday's pitching matchup has Kevin Millwood (14-11, 3.88) going for the Phillies and Greg Maddux (15-11, 3.97) getting the start for Atlanta.


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