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Atlanta (83-76)0000030014103
Philadelphia (87-72) «40200000x691

Phillies eliminate Braves, catch Mets with three to play

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies are done chasing.

After 159 games, the Phillies are finally atop the division standings -- albeit tied with the free-falling New York Mets.

Ryan Howard hit his 44th homer, Pat Burrell also connected and the Phillies roughed up John Smoltz, before hanging on for a 6-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

The collapsing Mets lost 3-0 to St. Louis to drop into a tie with Philadelphia (87-72) for first place. Both teams have three games left. The Phillies host Washington, which is coming off a three-game sweep at Shea Stadium. The Mets host Florida.

"It's a good feeling," Howard said. "But, really, we haven't done anything. We have three games left. This is what it's all about."

Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira hit consecutive homers for the Braves, who were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention for the second straight year after winning 14 straight division titles.

While the Phillies celebrated their 11th win in 14 games, a crowd of 40,589 cheered wildly and waved their white-and-red "Fightin' Phils" towels.

For a change, there were no "E-A-G-L-E-S" chants at Citizens Bank Park.

"I couldn't hear myself think. That was great," closer Brett Myers said.

Kyle Kendrick (10-4) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. Tom Gordon escaped a jam in the seventh, J.C. Romero pitched a scoreless eighth and Myers allowed a leadoff homer to Jeff Francoeur in the ninth before getting three outs for his 21st save in 24 chances.

The Phillies hadn't spent a day in first place all season, and were seven games behind the Mets after losing to Colorado on Sept. 12. They remained one game behind San Diego in the wild-card standings. The Padres beat Milwaukee 9-5.

After falling short in the final weekend the last two seasons, the Phillies could be heading to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Meanwhile, Atlanta is going home for the second straight year after their unprecedented string of division championships.

Desperate to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, the Braves got a poor performance from an unlikely source. Smoltz (14-8) gave up six runs -- five earned -- and seven hits, striking out eight in four innings. It was his shortest outing since going 3 1/3 innings on May 29, and only the fourth time in 32 starts he allowed more than three earned runs.

"Everybody here can improve on their year and I'm looking forward to it," Smoltz said of next season.

The Braves sliced Philly's lead in half when Jones hit an opposite-field, two-run homer and Teixeira followed with a solo shot to cut it to 6-3 in the sixth.

The Phillies scored four times before Smoltz recorded an out. Jimmy Rollins hit Smoltz's first pitch up the middle for a single and Shane Victorino put down a perfect bunt on the next offering. Smoltz didn't have a chance to get the speedy Victorino, but threw anyway and the ball ended up down the right field line. Rollins scored and Victorino went to third.

Two pitches in, the Phillies led 1-0.

Chase Utley followed with a grounder to first baseman Teixeira. The normally sure-handed Teixeira booted it for an error, allowing Victorino to score.

Howard then turned on an inside pitch and lined it into the right-field seats to make it 4-0.

"Their offense is very good," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

In his next at-bat, Howard swung at and missed a down-and-away splitter for his 196th strikeout to set the single-season major league record. He broke the mark established in 2004 by Adam Dunn of the Cincinnati Reds.

Last season's NL MVP, Howard has 130 RBI. He struck out again in the fifth.

After Howard fanned, Aaron Rowand doubled. Burrell then hit a towering drive that just cleared the wall in left-center for his 30th homer, giving the Phillies a 6-0 lead.

Burrell was 2-for-26 with 14 strikeouts lifetime against Smoltz before he homered.

"He made a mistake and I finally hit it," Burrell said.

Kendrick mowed down the Braves until the sixth. The rookie right-hander has saved Philadelphia's depleted pitching staff since coming up from Double-A Reading after Freddy Garcia went down for the season in June.

"It's exciting, but we still have work to do," Kendrick said.

Notes

  • Burrell moved into fifth-place on the Phillies' all-time list with his 218th career homer, passing Cy Williams.
  • Rollins needs two more at-bats to set the single-season major league record. Willie Wilson had 705 at-bats for Kansas City in 1980.
  • Smoltz hasn't beaten the Phillies since July 1, 2005.
  • Teixeira homered in each of the three games in Philly.
 
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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Philadelphia's Ryan Howard doesn't waste time, blasting a two-run homer in the first inning.  (AP)
Philadelphia's Ryan Howard doesn't waste time, blasting a two-run homer in the first inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Philadelphia

P. Burrell
AB 2
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Atlanta

C. Jones
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Atlanta Braves
Kelly Johnson, 2B4000122 .277
Edgar Renteria, SS4110003 .332
Chipper Jones, 3B4112000 .339
Mark Teixeira, 1B3111101 .307
Brian McCann, C4000001 .270
Jeff Francoeur, RF4121010 .292
Andruw Jones, CF4010001 .222
Matt Diaz, LF4030001 .340
John Smoltz, P0000000 .093
   a- Scott Thorman, PH1000001 .220
    Ron Mahay, P0000000 .000
    Joey Devine, P0000000 .000
   b- Willie Harris, PH1010000 .279
    Manny Acosta, P0000000 .000
    Royce Ring, P0000000 .000
    Peter Moylan, P0000000 .000
   c- Yunel Escobar, PH1000001 .330
Totals34410423  
a-grounded out for Smoltz in the 5th
b-doubled for Devine in the 7th
c-lined out for Moylan in the 9th
Batting
2B - Willie Harris (20, Gordon)
HR - Chipper Jones (29, Kendrick), Mark Teixeira (30, Kendrick), Jeff Francoeur (18, Myers)
SH - John Smoltz (13)
RBI - Chipper Jones 2 (102), Mark Teixeira (104), Jeff Francoeur (102)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Renteria-Teixeira, Acosta-Renteria-Teixeira
E - Kelly Johnson (14, Misplayed grounder), John Smoltz (3, Throwing), Mark Teixeira (5, Misplayed grounder)
Atlanta Braves
John Smoltz (L,14-8) 4765082 3.11
Ron Mahay 1000030 2.62
Joey Devine 1000200 1.17
Manny Acosta 1000010 2.38
Royce Ring 0.1000000 2.79
Peter Moylan 0.2200010 1.81
WP - John Smoltz (8), Joey Devine (1)
Pitches-Strikes - John Smoltz 67-47, Ron Mahay 16-10, Joey Devine 15-6, Manny Acosta 10-8, Royce Ring 4-3, Peter Moylan 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Smoltz 4-1, Joey Devine 2-0, Manny Acosta 2-0, Peter Moylan 1-0
Batters Faced - John Smoltz 20, Ron Mahay 3, Joey Devine 4, Manny Acosta 3, Royce Ring 1, Peter Moylan 4
Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS4110012 .295
Shane Victorino, RF4110013 .284
Chase Utley, 2B4100020 .331
Ryan Howard, 1B4112020 .265
Aaron Rowand, CF4120020 .312
Pat Burrell, LF2112110 .259
    Chris Roberson, PR0000000 .286
    Michael Bourn, LF1010000 .274
Greg Dobbs, 3B3000011 .274
    Abraham Nunez, 3B1000012 .235
Carlos Ruiz, C3020102 .259
Kyle Kendrick, P2000022 .154
   a- Pete Laforest, PH1000001 .278
    Tom Gordon, P0000000 .000
    J.C. Romero, P0000000 .000
    Brett Myers, P0000000 .000
Totals33694213  
a-grounded into a double play for Kendrick in the 6th
Batting
2B - Aaron Rowand (45, Smoltz), Carlos Ruiz (28, Smoltz)
HR - Ryan Howard (44, Smoltz), Pat Burrell (30, Smoltz)
RBI - Ryan Howard 2 (130), Pat Burrell 2 (97)
2-OUT RBI - Pat Burrell 2 (34)
SB - Jimmy Rollins (38, 2nd base off Smoltz/McCann)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Utley-Rollins-Howard, Nunez-Utley-Howard, Utley-Rollins-Howard
E - Chase Utley (10, Throwing)
Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Kendrick (W,10-4) 6633122 3.87
Tom Gordon (H,13) 1200100 4.93
J.C. Romero (H,24) 1000000 2.01
Brett Myers (S,21) 1211011 4.46
Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Kendrick 79-50, Tom Gordon 13-8, J.C. Romero 13-8, Brett Myers 17-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Kendrick 5-10, Tom Gordon 1-1, J.C. Romero 3-0, Brett Myers 1-1
Batters Faced - Kyle Kendrick 24, Tom Gordon 5, J.C. Romero 3, Brett Myers 5
Game Information
Attendance - 40589
Game Time - 2:34
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Ed Rapuano, First Base - Ed Hickox, Second Base - C.B. Bucknor, Third Base - Joe West