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Phillies edge Braves 2-1 as Smoltz remains winless

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PHILADELPHIA -- Great game, Chase. Now, back to the bench.

Chase Utley had a tiebreaking RBI single and game-saving catch, and Jon Lieber outdueled John Smoltz, leading the Philadelphia Phillies to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.

"Utley pretty much won the game," Smoltz said.

Lieber (3-0) allowed one run and seven hits in eight innings to win his third straight start since joining the Phillies. Billy Wagner pitched a shaky ninth for his second save. He allowed two hits, two long fly outs and threw a wild pitch, but second baseman Utley made a diving, backhanded catch on Brian Jordan's liner to end it with runners at second and third.

"In that situation, you're at least trying to knock the ball down, not let it get past you. Somehow, it stuck in my glove," said Utley, who likely won't start against the left-handed Mike Hampton on Sunday.

A former first-round pick, Utley was supposed to be Philadelphia's regular starter at second base. However, he's been platooned with Placido Polanco, who is making $4.6 million this season after unexpectedly accepting arbitration.

"I try not to think about that. Once you think about it, you're screwed," Utley said.

Jimmy Rollins hit a tying homer off Smoltz (0-3) in the sixth, helping the Phillies snap a three-game losing streak.

Smoltz gave up two runs and five hits, striking out four in seven innings. The former Cy Young Award winner is winless since returning to the starting rotation after saving 154 games. But the Braves have scored just two runs in his three starts.

"0-3 is not an indication of how I've been pitching," Smoltz said. "That's what I have to keep remembering. My statistics will come around. If I keep giving up two runs or less, I'm going to get a lot of wins. I have to look at it like it's a fluke."

After Rollins hit Smoltz's first pitch of the sixth inning deep into the right-field seats to tie it at 1, Kenny Lofton and Bobby Abreu walked.

Smoltz struck out Jim Thome and retired Pat Burrell, but Utley lined a single to right field to score Lofton, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Right fielder Raul Mondesi bobbled the ball, allowing Lofton to score without a play.

Smoltz lasted just five outs and allowed seven runs in his first start since 2001 on opening day at Florida. But he rebounded with a career best-tying 15 strikeouts in an outstanding performance against the Mets in which he allowed two runs and lost to Pedro Martinez last Sunday.

"We got him two runs in two starts. What are you going to do?" Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

Jordan's two-out RBI single in the fifth scored Johnny Estrada, who hit a double, to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.

Lieber won 14 games for the Yankees last year, and was their most effective pitcher down the stretch. He signed a $21 million, three-year contract with Philadelphia in December.

"I was trying to be aggressive and keep the ball in the strike zone," said Lieber, who threw just 75 pitches. "I was hitting my spots. I still feel I could be a little bit better. I feel as strong as I think I can be."

Notes

  • Burrell was 0-for-4, ending his 10-game hitting streak.
  • Phillies C Todd Pratt threw out two runners trying to steal second.
  • Smoltz had 11 saves in 16 chances against the Phillies.
  • Jordan was just 2-for-17 off Lieber before his run-scoring hit.
  • Thome hasn't homered in 39 at-bats this season.
  • Abreu stole his fifth base in five tries.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Jim Thome doesn't have chance to score as Johnny Estrada tags him out. (AP)
Jim Thome doesn't have chance to score as Johnny Estrada tags him out. (AP)

Players of the Game
Philadelphia

J. Rollins
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
Philadelphia

C. Utley
AB 3
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS4010000 .224
Marcus Giles, 2B4000011 .154
Chipper Jones, 3B4020000 .381
Andruw Jones, CF4000002 .250
Johnny Estrada, C4110001 .241
Adam LaRoche, 1B3010011 .281
   a- Julio Franco, PH1010000 .429
    Wilson Betemit, PR0000000 .000
Brian Jordan, LF4011003 .184
Raul Mondesi, RF3020001 .216
John Smoltz, P2000002 .000
   b- Pete Orr, PH1000000 .273
    Chris Reitsma, P0000000 .000
Totals341910211 
a-singled for LaRoche in the 9th
b-flied out for Smoltz in the 8th
Batting
2B - Chipper Jones (4, Lieber), Johnny Estrada (4, Lieber)
RBI - Brian Jordan (8)
2-OUT RBI - Brian Jordan (4)
CS - Rafael Furcal (1, 2nd base by Lieber/Pratt), Raul Mondesi (1, 2nd base by Lieber/Pratt)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Andruw Jones 1
DP - Giles-Furcal-LaRoche
E - Rafael Furcal (1, misplayed grounder), Raul Mondesi (1, misplayed ball)
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (L,0-3) 7522341 5.63
Chris Reitsma 1100010 1.50
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 107-71, Chris Reitsma 10-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 9-7, Chris Reitsma 1-1
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 28, Chris Reitsma 4
Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS4121000 .311
Kenny Lofton, CF3120111 .407
Bobby Abreu, RF3000101 .292
Jim Thome, 1B3000114 .256
Pat Burrell, LF4000024 .378
Chase Utley, 2B3021001 .333
David Bell, 3B3000002 .163
Todd Pratt, C3000000 .143
Jon Lieber, P3000010 .000
    Billy Wagner, P0000000 .000
Totals292623513 
Batting
2B - Chase Utley (1, Smoltz)
HR - Jimmy Rollins (1, Smoltz)
RBI - Jimmy Rollins (4), Chase Utley (6)
2-OUT RBI - Chase Utley (3)
SB - Jimmy Rollins (3, 2nd base off Smoltz/Estrada), Bobby Abreu (5, 2nd base off Reitsma/Estrada)
Team LOB - 6
Philadelphia Phillies
Jon Lieber (W,3-0) 8711020 2.49
Billy Wagner (S,2) 1200000 0.00
WP - Billy Wagner (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Jon Lieber 75-55, Billy Wagner 24-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jon Lieber 12-8
Batters Faced - Jon Lieber 29, Billy Wagner 5
Game Information
Attendance - 36820
Game Time - 2:11
Temperature - 59
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Alfonso Marquez, Second Base - Rick Reed, Third Base - Terry Craft