PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Phillies thought they would be the team
to finally overtake Atlanta in the NL East. Instead, a six-week
slide has left them wondering what went wrong.
"We've got guys who come in every day expecting to win,"
Wright said. "Whatever happened the night before, you don't see it
carry over around here. ... I don't know if I've ever seen
something like this where everybody's prepared to win."
The Braves swept the two-game series and hold a 13½-game lead
over the third-place Phillies in the NL East. It seems hard to
believe now that they were tied for first in the division after
splitting a two-game series July 19-20.
The Braves have won nine of 10. Philadelphia has lost 19 of 25.
"We just had to pick it up and start playing good baseball and
we did," Andruw Jones said.
With a brand new ballpark and a $93 million payroll that
included a new All-Star closer, a revamped bullpen and a promising
starting rotation, the Phillies were favorites to finally unseat
Atlanta in the NL East.
Instead, for the 13th straight year, the Phillies and everyone
else are looking up at the Braves.
"It's difficult to take," Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal
said. "Obviously, they're playing a lot better. Baseball is about
streaks. They've had a great month. We haven't."
The latest example is Wright (14-6), who won his third straight
start and improved to 12-1 since May 27. Wright walked none, struck
out five and improved to 3-0 this year against the Phillies.
"I just tried to stay healthy all year," Wright said. "My arm
feels good and I'm going to try and keep it going."
Wright also helped himself in the second inning, waiting on a
hanging curveball from Vicente Padilla (5-7) and ripping an RBI
single to left for a 2-0 lead. Rafael Furcal followed with a
Wright pitched out of his only serious jam with a 5-2 lead in
the sixth. After allowing consecutive singles to Jason Michaels and
Bobby Abreu to open the inning, Wright struck out Jim Thome, David
Bell reached on a fielder's choice and Placido Polanco also struck
out looking to end the rally.
"He could have really gotten himself in trouble, but he made
the pitches all night to get himself out of trouble," catcher
Johnny Estrada said.
Most of the fans filed out after that, with some screaming for
top prospect Gavin Floyd, who makes his big league debut Friday.
The novelty of the new park has worn off -- there were several large
patches of blue seats throughout the stadium in what was expected
back in April to be a standing-room only crowd.
One even yelled, "Smarty Jones forever!"
Padilla allowed nine hits and five runs in five innings for the
"When everything goes right, he's unbelievable, but every time
something goes wrong, his focus just leaves," Phillies manager
Larry Bowa said.
Andruw Jones crushed his 23rd homer of the year in the third, a
solo homer to left for a 4-2 lead. Chipper Jones hit his 26th in
the fourth inning to make it 5-2.
Chipper Jones added a two-run double in the eighth for a 7-2
Polanco had an RBI single and Lieberthal a sacrifice fly in the
second inning for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound lefty
slugging first baseman and the team's minor league player of the
year, struck out looking as a pinch-hitter in his first major
league at-bat. ... The Braves reached double digits in hits for the
12th straight game, the longest streak in the major since the Red
Sox did it in 13 straight in 1999. ... Braves 1B Adam LaRoche went
3-for-4 with two doubles. ... The Braves recalled RHP Travis Smith
and INF Wilson Betemit from Triple-A Richmond. ... Philadelphia RHP
Ryan Madson gave up two hits and an unearned run in one inning in a
rehab assignment at Double-A Reading.