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Braves inch closer to another division crown with win over Phils

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves are closing in on another division title.

They owe a big thanks to Jorge Sosa.

A little-known journeyman before this season, Sosa has been a major contributor to the Braves' playoff drive. On Tuesday night, he pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings for his 13th win to lead Atlanta to a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

"He's been a godsend," Chipper Jones said.

The Braves reduced their magic number to six for winning a 14th straight division title. The Phillies lost ground on two fronts, falling six games behind Atlanta in the NL East and two games behind Houston in the wild-card race. The Astros beat Pittsburgh 7-4.

"These are like playoff games," Phillies third baseman David Bell said. "Every game, every pitch, is so important now."

Sosa (13-3), acquired from Tampa Bay during spring training in a seemingly minor deal for infielder Nick Green, has bolstered a rotation that was weakened by injuries to Mike Hampton and John Thomson.

The right-hander won for the fifth time in six starts, solidifying a spot in Atlanta's possible postseason rotation. True to his nickname -- teammates call him "Houdini" -- Sosa overcame a career-high six walks.

"He's confident that he can always get himself out of it," Jones said, breaking into a smile, "and we're starting to come around."

Sosa, who entered this season with a career record of 11-26, surrendered two hits before giving way to Macay McBride.

McBride struck out Jason Michaels to end a seventh-inning threat, Chris Reitsma pitched a scoreless eighth, and Kyle Farnsworth allowed a run-scoring single to Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the ninth. The Phillies had only three hits.

"I thank this organization for giving me the opportunity to win 13 games," Sosa said through an interpreter. "I can't say anything bad about the Devil Rays, but it's great to be here with a winning organization. I'm learning a lot from the veterans."

Sosa lowered his ERA to 2.45 and has as many wins this year as Tim Hudson, the Braves' big acquisition last offseason. Sosa is only one behind the team's top winner, All-Star John Smoltz.

Rafael Furcal had three hits, scored twice, drove in a run and picked up his career-high 43rd stolen base.

"It doesn't mean anything," Furcal said. "I just try to go play the game and try to steal as many bases as I can."

Andruw Jones added to his NL lead with his 126th RBI, while Chipper Jones came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth to draw a walk with the bases loaded; he was a little late getting to the park because his wife delivered the couple's third child about 2½ hours before the game.

"Mama's doing good, baby's doing good," Jones said. "I'm just glad they're healthy and we got it out of the way early enough in the day so I could make it down here in time to help out."

Sosa didn't allow a hit until Bell's one-out single in the fifth and went on to beat the Phillies for the second time in six days, following up a 6-4 win in Philadelphia last week.

Sosa pitched out of a major jam in the sixth. Kenny Lofton doubled with one out, and walks to Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu loaded the bases.

But Pat Burrell took a called third strike, and Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche ended the threat with a nifty grab along the line, running to the bag himself to retire Ryan Howard.

Sosa dodged more trouble in the seventh. With one on, Rollins hit a towering drive down the right-field line, but the ball hooked right of the pole by about 3 feet -- just missing a tying two-run homer.

Rollins walked on the next pitch, Sosa's season-high 115th of the night. It was his last, as manager Bobby Cox called in McBride. Sosa walked off the mound to a standing ovation, twirling his hat to the crowd.

"He just makes pitches when he has to," Braves catcher Johnny Estrada said. "He gets himself into trouble, but he's got a slider that seems invisible to hitters."

McBride struck out pinch-hitter Michaels on a disputed checked swing, and the Braves doubled their lead with two runs in the bottom half.

Cory Lidle (11-11) lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and two runs. He also was making his second straight start against the same opponent, having picked up the win in a 12-4 rout of the Braves last week.

The Phillies complained several times about umpire Joe Brinkman's liberal strike zone, but manager Charlie Manuel said that wasn't the real problem.

"We didn't hit," he said. "The umpires didn't beat us."

Notes

Sosa, who started the season in the bullpen, improved to 10-3 in 18 starts. ... Furcal tied Otis Nixon's Atlanta record for most stolen bases in a season. ... Lidle lost to the Braves for the first time in five career decisions. ... The Phillies took no chances with MVP candidate Andruw Jones, walking him twice intentionally. ... Sosa had walked five in a game five times, most recently on Aug. 5, 2004, while pitching for Tampa Bay against Oakland.

 
Copyright 2015 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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Players of the Game
Atlanta

R. Furcal
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
Atlanta

J. Sosa
IP 6.2
H 2
ER 0
BB 6
K 7
 

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Kenny Lofton, CF2010100 .332
   a- Jason Michaels, PH-CF2000024 .306
Chase Utley, 2B3000101 .281
Bobby Abreu, RF3000101 .295
Pat Burrell, LF4000023 .279
Ryan Howard, 1B3000113 .286
David Bell, 3B3010100 .249
Mike Lieberthal, C3100123 .253
Cory Lidle, P2000022 .157
    Rheal Cormier, P0000000 .000
    Ryan Madson, P0000000 .000
   b- Shane Victorino, PH1000011 .200
    Aaron Fultz, P0000000 .333
    Geoff Geary, P0000000 .167
    Billy Wagner, P0000000 .500
   c- Michael Tucker, PH0000100 .240
Totals3013181018 
a-struck out for Lofton in the 7th
b-struck out for Madson in the 7th
c-walked for Wagner in the 9th
Batting
2B - Kenny Lofton (12, Sosa)
RBI - Jimmy Rollins (47)
2-OUT RBI - Jimmy Rollins (22)
SB - Kenny Lofton (16, 3rd base off Sosa/Estrada), Chase Utley (14, 2nd base off Sosa/Estrada)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - Utley-Howard
E - Geoff Geary (1, wild throw)
Philadelphia Phillies
Cory Lidle (L,11-11) 5.2522120 4.74
Rheal Cormier0000200 6.07
Ryan Madson 0.1000000 3.46
Aaron Fultz 0.1222000 2.39
Geoff Geary 0.2100200 3.93
Billy Wagner 1100000 1.57
IBB - A. Jones by Cory Lidle, A. Jones by Geoff Geary
WP - Billy Wagner (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Cory Lidle 59-35, Rheal Cormier 11-3, Ryan Madson 2-1, Aaron Fultz 11-8, Geoff Geary 18-9, Billy Wagner 17-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cory Lidle 9-5, Aaron Fultz 1-0, Billy Wagner 1-2
Batters Faced - Cory Lidle 22, Rheal Cormier 2, Ryan Madson 1, Aaron Fultz 3, Geoff Geary 5, Billy Wagner 4
Atlanta Braves
Rafael Furcal, SS5231001 .280
Marcus Giles, 2B4100002 .298
Jeff Francoeur, RF4020001 .318
Andruw Jones, CF2001200 .269
Adam LaRoche, 1B2000011 .252
   a- Julio Franco, PH-1B0000200 .277
Ryan Langerhans, LF2000010 .254
   b- Chipper Jones, PH-3B1001103 .295
Johnny Estrada, C4010003 .257
Wilson Betemit, 3B2020000 .299
    Todd Hollandsworth, LF2110001 .247
Jorge Sosa, P2000002 .100
    Macay McBride, P0000000 .000
   c- Pete Orr, PH0000000 .285
    Chris Reitsma, P0000000 .000
   d- Brayan Pena, PH1000001 .152
    Kyle Farnsworth, P0000000 .000
Totals314935215 
a-walked for LaRoche in the 6th
b-walked for Langerhans in the 6th
c-hit a sacrifice bunt for McBride in the 7th
d-grounded out for Reitsma in the 8th
Batting
2B - Rafael Furcal 2 (29, Lidle, Lidle)
SH - Pete Orr (4)
RBI - Rafael Furcal (55), Andruw Jones (126), Chipper Jones (68)
2-OUT RBI - Chipper Jones (23)
SB - Rafael Furcal (43, 2nd base off Geary/Lieberthal)
Team LOB - 9
Atlanta Braves
Jorge Sosa (W,13-3) 6.2200670 2.45
Macay McBride (H,5) 0.1000010 4.76
Chris Reitsma 1000010 3.71
Kyle Farnsworth 1111210 2.11
IBB - Abreu by Jorge Sosa
WP - Kyle Farnsworth (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Jorge Sosa 115-68, Macay McBride 4-3, Chris Reitsma 18-10, Kyle Farnsworth 28-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jorge Sosa 7-6, Chris Reitsma 1-1, Kyle Farnsworth 1-1
Batters Faced - Jorge Sosa 28, Macay McBride 1, Chris Reitsma 3, Kyle Farnsworth 6
Game Information
Attendance - 25701
Game Time - 3:03
Temperature - 88
Umpires - Home - Joe Brinkman, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Jeff Nelson, Third Base - Bill Miller