Chase Utley hit two homers to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead, but Rhodes blew his second straight save opportunity. Filling in for the injured Gordon, Rhodes (0-4) also wasted a two-run lead in the ninth inning of a 6-5, 10-inning loss to Washington on Thursday night.
Jon Lieber pitched eight solid innings, before giving way to the bullpen. Ryan Madson allowed an infield single to Jeff Francoeur leading off the ninth and Rhodes came in to face the left-handed LaRoche, who drove a 1-0 pitch deep into the right-field seats for his 28th homer.
"I figured something hard was coming," LaRoche said. "He left it out a little."
It was the second homer Rhodes has allowed in 44 1-3 innings this season.
"Today is worse because we were winning and I come in, make a bad pitch and they take the lead," Rhodes said.
Tyler Yates (2-4) pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn the win. He struck out Utley to leave the bases loaded in the eighth after getting David Dellucci to bounce out with the bases loaded to end the seventh. Bob Wickman pitched the ninth for his 11th save in as many chances
The Phillies, who've steadily climbed in the standings since overhauling their roster before the July 31st trade deadline, fell one game behind San Diego for first place in the NL wild-card race.
"The last two we played, they were games we had, games we let slip away," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Gordon was placed on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder on Aug. 21. He was scheduled to make his second rehab appearance at Single-A Clearwater on Saturday, and could rejoin the Phillies if he doesn't have any setbacks.
A day after the series opener was postponed because of rain from tropical depression Ernesto, there was a 1-hour, 32-minute rain delay at the start.
Once the game got under way, the Phillies quickly jumped ahead of the Braves in the first inning against Oscar Villarreal. Utley, coming off a 6-for-34 road trip, broke out of that slump with a two-run shot that gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Victorino reached on an infield single, before Utley lined his 23rd homer to right field.
Utley struck out to leave two runners on in the second, but ripped a solo shot in nearly the same spot as his first homer to make it 3-0 in the fifth. The All-Star second baseman has five multihomer games this season, and nine in his career.
The Braves cut it to 3-2 on a two-run single by pinch-hitter Daryle Ward with two outs in the seventh.
LaRoche singled and Ryan Langerhans doubled after Lieber retired the first two batters. Ward, in his first at-bat with the Braves after being acquired in a trade with Washington on Thursday night, hit a sharp single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch to score both runners.
"It was a bad pitch on my part, got too much of the plate," Lieber said.
Lieber, who 17 games last year and was outstanding down the stretch, has been inconsistent in his second season with the Phillies. He's allowed four earned runs or more in 12 of his 22 starts. However, Lieber has pitched well since a terrible outing against Florida on July 31 in which he gave up nine runs in 4 2-3 innings. Lieber is 2-1 with a 2.42 ERA since the loss to the Marlins.
Villarreal allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings in his fourth straight start after pitching in relief most of the season.
"Our bullpen really stood out," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.
- LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the fifth.
- Phillies LF Pat Burrell made a diving catch on a sinking liner by Pete Orr leading off the sixth.
- Orr started for 2B Marcus Giles, who was a late scratch because he was feeling ill.
- Pinch-hitter Randall Simon singled to left in his first at-bat for the Phillies after being acquired from Texas on Friday. It was Simon's first hit in the majors since Sept. 3, 2004 with Tampa Bay.