ATLANTA (AP) -- Something about losing big brings out the best in
the Atlanta Braves.
A day earlier, Philadelphia won 18-5, the fifth time this season
the Braves have lost by 10 or more runs. Each time, they've bounced
back to win the next game.
"It's not a coincidence," Lopez said. "This is what makes
this team better. Once you bounce back, you know you've gotten rid
of all the frustration from the night before."
Philadelphia dropped one game behind Florida in the NL wild-card
race, and Atlanta lowered its magic number to clinch the NL East to
"We've had a fire lit all year," Phillies manager Larry Bowa
said. "That's not going to change. You have to worry about
yourself. You can't worry about other people."
Horacio Ramirez (10-4) won his second straight decision,
allowing six hits in seven innings. He gave up solo homers to Pat
Burrell in the second and Tomas Perez in the seventh, and struck
out seven without walking a batter.
It was the second strong start in a row for the rookie
left-hander, making a bid to be included in the postseason roster.
The previous time out, he held Pittsburgh to one earned run and
three hits in nine innings.
"I'm just happy to be here," Ramirez said. "Last year at this
time, I was in the Instructional League. I have a lot to play
The decision on who pitches in October could narrow to between
Ramirez and veteran Shane Reynolds, who's been hit hard in two
straight starts. In 7 1-3 innings during those two games, he's
allowed 11 runs on nine hits.
"I'm not thinking about it, I'm really not," Ramirez said.
"I'm still trying to finish strong."
Lopez lined a 2-2 pitch from Vicente Padilla (13-10) to the
seats in center, tying the game at 1 in the second. It was Lopez's
39th homer this season, leaving him two shy of the major league
record for a catcher. Todd Hundley hit 41 for the New York Mets in
"I just don't want to think about it," Lopez said. "I'm just
trying to make good swings on every pitch. If it happens, it'll be
Lopez finished 3-for-4, and Chipper Jones also had three hits
for the Braves, who won for the fourth time in five games.
Will Cunnane pitched the ninth for his third save in three
chances in place of closer John Smoltz, in Birmingham, Ala., to
rehab his injured pitching elbow. Smoltz, on the disabled list for
two weeks with tendinitis, is being treated by orthopedic surgeon
Dr. James Andrews.
The Phillies lost for only the third time in 13 games since a
six-game losing streak, and they still have six games left this
season against the Marlins.
"You want to win every day, especially when there's just 16
days left," first baseman Jim Thome said. "Even though we have
games against them, you have to take care of business before you
get there. You keep fighting. The baseball season has a lot of ups
and downs. We were playing a good team, and they played well."
Burrell's homer gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead, and Lopez tied it
with a 408-foot shot in the bottom half.
After a run-scoring single Chipper Jones in the sixth, Perez cut
the lead to 4-2 with a home run with two outs in the seventh.
Atlanta INF Mark DeRosa started for the third straight
night, giving 3B Vinny Castilla the night off. DeRosa started the
first two games of the series at second and short. ... Phillies CF
Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to eight games with a
single in the first. ... Thome struck out three times against
Ramirez and four times in all.