|Atlanta (71-69) «||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||4||3||9||15||0|
ATLANTA -- The Braves will have a hard time making the playoffs, despite their most remarkable comeback of the season. So they went ahead and celebrated as though this one was for a championship.
The Phillies squandered leads of 5-0 and 8-2, giving up four runs in the eighth and watching in disbelief as Diaz's liner skidded off the tip of Chris Robertson's glove with the bases loaded.
"I'm not believing that," said Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, whose team remained five games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets. "I totally can't believe that. I've never seen that -- ever. It's mind-boggling."
The Braves' chances looked slim when Brett Myers (3-6) retired the first two hitters in the ninth with an 8-6 lead. But Jeff Francoeur and Martin Prado hustled to beat out infield hits, and Yunel Escobar walked to load the bases.
That brought up Diaz, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh. He went the opposite way with a liner that eluded Roberson's lunging attempt and stuck at the base of the wall.
Roberson hit the relay man, but the throw home was up the first-base line. Escobar slid across with the winning run, thrusting his right index finger toward the stands. Diaz, who had just rounded second, pumped his fists and was mobbed by his teammates in a wild pile beside the pitcher's mound.
"When I got it in the air, I thought I got too much," Diaz said. "I didn't realize how shallow he was playing."
Manuel remained on the top step of the dugout for at least a minute, watching the celebration and subtly shaking his head. Finally, he headed for the clubhouse.
"It didn't look good," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "But we did it."
The Braves still must face reality. They won for just the second time in six games on a crucial homestand against their top two rivals in the NL East, having been swept by the Mets last weekend.
Atlanta is 7½ games behind New York, which lost 7-0 to Cincinnati.
"Whatever happens, we're going to play till the end," Francoeur said. "That was the most exciting game of the year for me."
Braves starter Tim Hudson allowed five runs in the first two innings, and the Phillies added three more in the seventh off Oscar Villareal for an 8-2 lead. Rafael Soriano (3-3) picked up the win with a scoreless ninth.
Atlanta sent 10 hitters to the plate in the eighth, scoring four runs off Tom Gordon. But it looked like another frustrating finish for the Braves when Kelly Johnson popped out on a 2-0 pitch from Myers with the bases loaded, then Chipper Jones hit a lazy fly to left for the third out, slamming his bat in disgust.
Gordon blamed himself for letting the Braves back in the game.
"It's devastating," he said. "We need to win those kind of games. I take responsibility for it."
Myers struck out Mark Teixeira to start the ninth, and Brayan Pena grounded out to first. Francoeur hit a grounder past third that shortstop Jimmy Rollins fielded in the outfield grass, giving him no chance to throw out the runner. Prado followed with a high hopper off the plate, just beating Myers' throw to first, which pulled Ryan Howard off the bag anyway.
"When Prado got that base hit off home plate, I thought, 'Uh oh, something's going to happen here,'" Atlanta's Willie Harris said.
He was right. Diaz came through with the biggest hit of all, giving the Braves a glimmer of hope in the playoff race. The team that won 14 consecutive division titles from 1991-2005 has only 22 games left to avoid missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.
"It happened so fast," Myers said. "The game got out of control: cheap hits, balls falling in."
Hudson gave up 11 hits in five innings. The remarkable comeback kept him from his third loss in a row and kept the Braves (71-69) above .500.
"This is the kind of win we've been needing for a long time," Hudson said.
Pat Burrell hit his 25th homer in the second, a two-out drive over the center-field wall that put Philadelphia ahead 5-0.
Kyle Kendrick breezed through the first five innings, allowing just three hits. The Braves finally broke through in the sixth, knocking out the rookie with three consecutive hits that included Harris' leadoff homer.
"We had no business winning this game as lousy as we played the first few innings," Chipper Jones said. "We got lucky."
|Matt Diaz (right) celebrates his two-out, two-run double that concludes the comeback victory. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Jimmy Rollins, SS||5||1||1||0||1||0||2||.296|
|Chase Utley, 2B||3||1||3||2||1||0||0||.341|
|Pat Burrell, LF||3||2||2||1||2||1||1||.264|
|Geoff Geary, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Tom Gordon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Carlos Ruiz, C||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.262|
|Ryan Howard, 1B||5||0||1||0||1||0||8||.269|
|Aaron Rowand, CF||5||1||2||1||0||1||2||.313|
|Greg Dobbs, 3B||3||1||1||0||1||1||0||.282|
|Chris Roberson, RF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.308|
|Jayson Werth, RF-LF||5||1||2||2||0||0||1||.323|
|Chris Coste, C||5||0||1||0||0||1||5||.306|
|Brett Myers, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kyle Kendrick, P||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.171|
|J.C. Romero, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kane Davis, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Pete Laforest, PH||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||.385|
|Abraham Nunez, 3B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.235|
|a-singled for Davis in the 7th|
|2B - Aaron Rowand (39, Hudson)|
|3B - Jimmy Rollins (17, Hudson)|
|HR - Pat Burrell (25, Hudson)|
|SF - Chase Utley (6)|
|RBI - Chase Utley 2 (90), Pat Burrell (81), Aaron Rowand (79), Jayson Werth 2 (33), Pete Laforest (4)|
|2-OUT RBI - Chase Utley (34), Pat Burrell (22), Aaron Rowand (38), Jayson Werth 2 (15), Pete Laforest (3)|
|Team LOB - 14|
|E - Chris Roberson (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|J.C. Romero (H,18)||0.1||0||0||0||1||0||0||2.57|
|Kane Davis (H,1)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||4.91|
|Brett Myers (BS,2; L,3-6)||1.1||4||3||3||3||1||0||5.09|
|WP - Brett Myers (5)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Kendrick 88-57, J.C. Romero 8-4, Kane Davis 8-6, Geoff Geary 20-13, Tom Gordon 15-11, Brett Myers 45-26|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Kendrick 6-7, Brett Myers 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Kyle Kendrick 21, J.C. Romero 2, Kane Davis 2, Geoff Geary 4, Tom Gordon 5, Brett Myers 11|
|Willie Harris, LF-CF||4||1||2||2||1||0||1||.288|
|Kelly Johnson, 2B||5||1||2||0||0||1||5||.290|
|Chipper Jones, 3B||5||1||2||1||0||0||5||.329|
|Rafael Soriano, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B||4||0||0||0||1||1||2||.299|
|Brian McCann, C||4||0||2||0||0||0||2||.277|
|Chris Woodward, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.192|
|Corky Miller, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.235|
|a- Brayan Pena, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.240|
|Jeff Francoeur, RF||5||2||2||1||0||1||3||.292|
|Andruw Jones, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.225|
|Jose Ascanio, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Scott Thorman, PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.221|
|Martin Prado, 3B||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.311|
|Yunel Escobar, SS||3||1||1||0||2||0||1||.326|
|Tim Hudson, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.242|
|c- Pete Orr, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.183|
|Royce Ring, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Oscar Villarreal, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Matt Diaz, LF||3||0||2||4||0||1||1||.350|
|a-grounded out for Miller in the 9th|
|b-singled for Ascanio in the 8th|
|c-popped out for Hudson in the 5th|
|2B - Kelly Johnson (25, Kendrick), Chipper Jones 2 (38, Kendrick, Gordon), Matt Diaz (20, Myers)|
|HR - Willie Harris (2, Kendrick)|
|RBI - Willie Harris 2 (28), Chipper Jones (82), Jeff Francoeur (86), Matt Diaz 4 (42)|
|2-OUT RBI - Matt Diaz 3 (12)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Outfield Assists - Andruw Jones 1|
|DP - Escobar-Johnson-Teixeira|
|Rafael Soriano (W,3-3)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||3.39|
|HBP - Utley (by Rafael Soriano)|
|WP - Oscar Villarreal (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Tim Hudson 96-64, Royce Ring 21-9, Oscar Villarreal 19-14, Jose Ascanio 21-11, Rafael Soriano 16-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tim Hudson 6-3, Royce Ring 3-0, Jose Ascanio 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Tim Hudson 26, Royce Ring 5, Oscar Villarreal 7, Jose Ascanio 6, Rafael Soriano 5|
|Attendance - 22115|
|Game Time - 3:46|
|Temperature - 89|
|Umpires - Home - Alfonso Marquez, First Base - Adam Dowdy, Second Base - Chuck Meriwether, Third Base - Rick Reed|