ATLANTA (AP) For all that Jason Heyward did well, his diving catch in the eighth inning felt the best.
Heyward homered and drove in two runs, Andrelton Simmons had two RBIs, and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight game with a 6-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
”If they keep having (at-bats), maybe they put up another run or two,” Heyward said. ”Defense is going to win the game at the end of the day, but it’s good to score runs, and it got us going a little bit.”
Returning from the All-Star break, the Braves moved one game ahead of Washington in the NL East. Last-place Philadelphia dropped 11 games behind Atlanta.
Jimmy Rollins led off the eighth with a walk against Jordan Walden, the third Atlanta pitcher, but was thrown out at second base on Chase Utley’s strikeout. Heyward, the right fielder, then charged in to make a diving catch of Ryan Howard’s liner.
”You get so used to seeing him make those kinds of plays,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the 2012 Gold Glove winner. ”That’s why for me he might be the best right fielder, if not in the (majors), definitely in the National League.”
The game was played in a steady drizzle, but the rain had nearly stopped when Braves closer Craig Kimbrel earned his 30th save in 34 chances. He got Marlon Byrd on a groundout and struck out Grady Sizemore and Cody Asche.
Ervin Santana (8-6) gave up six hits, three walks and four runs – three earned – in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. He struck out one.
Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (6-9) allowed six runs, 10 hits – the last nine with two out – and one walk in five innings. He had five strikeouts as Philadelphia lost its third straight.
Burnett was clearly mad at himself as he walked off the field after the fifth.
”Six runs in five innings pretty much nails it on the head,” he said. ”I was in counts where I should have made pitches and I didn’t. That’s the bottom line. I made pitches to get to that point, didn’t make pitches after that. I don’t have excuses. I didn’t get it done.”
The Phillies led 2-0 in the second on Asche’s sacrifice fly and Cameron Rupp’s RBI single, but they trailed 4-2 in the bottom half after Heyward hit his ninth homer, B.J. Upton had an RBI single, and Simmons drove in two runs with a double.
Atlanta made it 6-2 in the fifth on RBI singles by Heyward and Tommy La Stella.
”They clumped (hits) together and put the four runs and two runs up in that fashion,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. ”Not the start we wanted the second half. We had some good at-bats, though.”
Philadelphia cut the lead to 6-4 in the sixth. Rollins reached on first baseman Freddie Freeman’s fielding error and moved to third on Utley’s double. Both runners scored on Howard’s broken-bat, two-run bloop single.
NOTES: Atlanta requested unconditional release waivers before the game on former All-Star 2B Dan Uggla. The Braves still owe Uggla, who hit .162 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 130 at-bats this year, over $18 million through the end of next season. … Gonzalez said C Evan Gattis, on the disabled list with a back injury, is scheduled to get about 12 at-bats over the next three days and play in the field for two games as he continues a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. If he has no setbacks, Gattis will be activated for Monday’s game against Miami. … Phillies LHP Cliff Lee, after missing nine weeks with a strained left elbow, says he is ready to return to the rotation for his start Monday at home against San Francisco. … The Braves recalled utility man Tyler Pastornicky to take Uggla’s spot on the 25-man roster.