Phillies take another step back in pursuit of wild card

ATLANTA (AP) -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel keeps watching
his team move within striking distance of the NL wild card, only to
take a step back.

"We could have stayed pretty good with them," Manuel said of
the San Diego Padres. "Win two, lost two, that don't get it

Chuck James pitched seven shutout innings, Andruw Jones hit his
34th homer, and the Atlanta Braves beat Philadelphia 4-1 to drop
the Phillies into a second-place tie for the NL wild card Thursday

San Diego, which won 4-2 at Cincinnati, is 2 games ahead of the
Phillies and San Francisco Giants, who beat Colorado 5-0.

Philadelphia's loss also trimmed the New York Mets' magic number
to one for clinching the NL East title. The Mets can wrap up their
first division championship since 1988 with a victory Friday night
in Pittsburgh or a Phillies loss at Houston.

Jamie Moyer (2-2) gave up Jones' solo shot in the sixth and a
three-run homer to rookie third baseman Martin Prado in the fifth.
It was the first homer of Prado's career.

"It's all about making pitches," Moyer said. "I don't care
who you're facing, a guy who's a rookie or a guy who's played 10

The 43-year-old left-hander allowed four runs and five hits in
six innings.

James (10-3) pitched seven shutout innings, allowing five hits
with two walks and seven strikeouts. The rookie left-hander has won
four straight starts and is 6-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last eight

"He tweaked his back in the second inning," Cox said of James.
"When he came up, I told him to take three (pitches) and not to
swing his bat. I didn't think he would make it, but he did. It just
shows how tough he is."

Bob Wickman worked the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.

Jeff Conine's RBI single off Tyler Yates cut the lead to 4-1 in
the eighth. Chase Utley began the inning with a triple off Macay
McBride, who departed after striking out Ryan Howard.

Howard, who entered with 56 homers to lead the majors, struck
out twice against James and walked once.

Chase Utley grounded out with Howard on deck to end the game.

"If we could've mustered another hit, we could have gotten
Howard up to the plate," Manuel said. "Good teams, things happen
like that. So far we don't have that going for us. And we need to,

Matt Smith pitched a scoreless seventh for the Phillies, who
lost for just the 10th time in 27 road games and missed a chance to
sweep a three-game series from the Braves for the first time since
April 2001.

"Looking back at the time I've been here, we've been kind of
streaky," said Moyer, acquired in a trade last month with Seattle.
"Win a couple, lose one, win a couple, lose one. That's a tough
way to play. We have to pitch better. We have to score runs. The
teams that win usually play pretty sound baseball. We've got to
play a little cleaner in the field."

Jones' 335th career homer tied him with Hank Aaron for third
place on the Atlanta list.

Alan Schwarz and Jerry Crasnick preview the four-game Dodgers-Padres series. Also, who is the Phillies' leader: Ryan Howard or Chase Utley?

" Baseball Today

James pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by forcing
Jimmy Rollins to pop out and Shane Victorino to ground into a
fielder's choice.

"I've gotten a little better," James said. "When I first came
up from the minors, I got a little nervous in those situations."

Cox believes James' recent successfully stretch over the last
eight starts hints at the potential he could have next season.

"It's easy to say Tom Glavine," Cox said when asked to compare
the rookie to a left-hander who helped anchor one of baseball's
best rotations from 1991-2002. "(James is) probably not as smooth
and deliberate as Tom, but he's more violent. Both are deceptive.
He can turn it up."

Game notes
3B Chipper Jones, who hasn't played since Sept. 3 because
of a strained oblique, still feels pain when he swings
right-handed, but hasn't given up hopes of returning next week. ...
LHP Randy Wolf is likely to start on three days rest Sunday at
Houston after throwing just 52 pitches and leaving with a 5-0
deficit after two full innings Wednesday.