Braves down Phils, win 9th straight
The red-hot Atlanta Braves found a different way to continue their winning streak: good, old-fashioned hustle.
Dan Uggla had a tiebreaking RBI grounder in the 12th, the Atlanta bullpen pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings and the Braves beat the slumping Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 on Saturday night for their ninth straight win.
Luis Avilan (4-0), one of seven Atlanta pitchers, threw a scoreless 11th inning to earn the win and Craig Kimbrel got the last three outs for his 33rd save in 36 chances as the Braves won for the 11th time in 13 games.
Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman (0-2) pitched a perfect 11th but ran into trouble in the 12th. Justin Upton walked leading off and went to second on Freddie Freeman's groundout. After an intentional walk to Evan Gattis, Diekman walked Paul Janish, a career .215 hitter, on four pitches to load the bases.
Justin De Fratus replaced Diekman and Uggla hit a bounding ball to short that looked like it could be a double play, but Uggla was safe at first when Chase Utley's relay pulled an extended Kevin Frandsen off the bag. Utley withstood a strong takeout slide from Janish, who made contact with the Philadelphia second baseman.
"Unnoticed by a lot of people is the way Janish went into second against Utley," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "If you go in tiptoeing there, Utley gets a clean look."
Said Janish, "The ball was hit slow enough and I was able to disrupt the play. Fortunately, it helped us win the game."
Gonzalez also credited Uggla for his effort on the play.
"Uggla really busted it down the line," he said. "The winning run came on a double-play ball, but our two runners made a difference."
John Mayberry Jr. homered for Philadelphia, which has lost four in a row and 12 of 13.
"Obviously, this is very frustrating," Mayberry said. "It can flip and come back around just as easily. We're going to remain confident until the end."
The Phillies did threaten in the 12th off Kimbrel, as Jimmy Rollins reached second with two outs on a fielder's choice and wild pitch. But Kimbrel struck out pinch-hitter Laynce Nix to record his 23rd straight save.
"It seems like we have a hard time getting going," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We're having a hard time playing good enough or doing enough to win. We're playing the game out and staying there with it. We're just getting beat right now."
Justin Upton homered for the Braves.
Atlanta took a 4-3 lead with a three-run fifth highlighted by Freeman's two-run single. But Rollins tied it with a two-out double in the seventh off reliever Luis Ayala that scored Mayberry. That hit closed the book on Brandon Beachy, who gave up three earned runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings in his second start this season following Tommy John surgery.
Beachy was 5-5 with a 2.00 ERA in 13 starts last season before having surgery June 21, 2012. He struggled in his return to the big leagues, allowing seven runs on eight hits in 3 2-3 innings Monday against Colorado. Beachy, who struck out four and walked two, lowered his ERA to 9.00.
"It was a step in the right direction for me, that's for sure," Beachy said. "I settled in after the first inning and made some quality pitches."
The Phillies took a 3-0 lead on Utley's RBI groundout in the first and Mayberry's two-run homer in the second. Upton brought the Braves within two runs with a solo shot in the third before Atlanta's three-run fifth.
John Lannan allowed two earned runs and four hits in 4 1-3 innings with a two walks and no strikeouts. Lannan was pitching on three days' rest after rookie Jonathan Pettibone, who was scheduled to start Saturday, was placed on the DL on Friday with a right shoulder strain.
"Everybody has to go through it and learn from it and move on," Lannan said of the skid.
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon entered to boos in the ninth inning but left to cheers with a 1-2-3 frame that featured two strikeouts. Papelbon has blown six of his last 13 save opportunities and has made critical comments of the team in recent weeks.
Atlanta got a runner in scoring position in the 10th off Antonio Bastardo when Chris Johnson and Uggla walked with two outs, but the left-hander struck out B.J. Upton to end the threat.
Frandsen nearly ended it leading off the 10th when he ripped the first pitch to left off David Carpenter, but Justin Upton caught it while backing into the wall in left-center. And Scott Downs came in to get the final two outs of the inning.
"It definitely wasn't from a lack of effort," Manuel said. "We just didn't get the hit or we didn't get the big hit to win the game."
NOTES: B.J. Upton, who was activated from the DL earlier Saturday, went 1 for 5. ... Atlanta got its MLB-leading 35th come-from-behind win. ... Chris Johnson went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and two walks, halting his streak of consecutive games with a hit at 11 and multi-hit games at eight. ... The Phillies honored several former members of their organization, including players from their 1993 World Series team, in a pregame ceremony. Catcher Darren Daulton, who was diagnosed with brain cancer last month, received the loudest ovation and received hugs from John Kruk, Mike Schmidt and manager Charlie Manuel. ... Phillies LHP Cliff Lee (10-4, 3.05) opposes Atlanta LHP Alex Wood (1-2, 3.51) in the finale of the three-game series Sunday night. ... Phillies LF Darin Ruf went 1 for 4 with a walk and has now reached base safely in 31 consecutive games.