Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 5: Phillies lose tough one to the Braves as their lead in the East shrinks to a game and a half.

A throwing error by Cole Hamels, the lack of a clutch hit with the bases loaded and a base running error in the sixth would all lead to a hard lose as the Phillies lose a close one to the Braves, 3-2. The Mets’ win against the Cubs cuts the Phils lead in the East down to a game and a half and leaves the magic number for winning the East at four while a Brewers’ win leave the playoff magic number at one.

The Braves took the lead in the first as, with a runner on second and one out, Kelly Johnson would hit a RBI single, scoring Martin Prado, who has earlier singled, giving the Braves a quick 1-0 lead. The Phillies would tie up the game in the second as, with a runner on third and two outs, Pedro Feliz would hit a RBI single, scoring Ryan Howard, who has earlier singled, went to second on Pat Burrell’s walk and would go to third on Shane Victorino’s 4-6-3 double play ball, which wiped out Burrell at second. The Braves would retake the lead in the third as, with runners on first and second and two out, Coel Hamels would have Johnson, who has gotten on base earlier with a single and then would move to second on Omar Infante’s single, picked off as Johnson was trying to steal third. But, Hamels’ throw to Feliz at third would go behind the third baseman and into left field, allowing Johnson to score and make it 2-1 Braves. The Phillies would threaten to even the score in their half of the third as they loaded up the bases with a double (Chase Utley), a throwing error by Johnson (Jayson Werth) and a walk (Howard), with two men out. But Braves’ starter Mike Hampton would end the threat by getting Burrell to pop out to the third baseman. The Braves would increase their lead in the sixth, as, with two outs, Casey Kotchman would hit a solo home run, his fourteenth home run of the year, making it 3-1 Braves. The Phillies would get a run base in their half of the sixth, as, with a runner on third and no one out, Pat Burrell would hit a RBI double, scoring Howard, who has earlier tripled, to make it a 3-2 Braves’ lead. Then Burrell would make a crucial base running blunder as, when Shane Victorino hit a hard ground to Braves’ shortstop Brent Lillibridge, instead of going back to second, as he should’ve done, he would be caught off second and then be run down before finally being tagged out by Johnson, with the play going 6-5-4, with Victorino being safe at first on the fielder’s choice. Later, with Feliz batting, Victorino would try to steal second. He would be thrown out by Braves’ catcher Brian McCann for the inning’s second out as Johnson supplies the tag. Feliz would then end the inning by grounding out, 6-3. The Burrell base running blunder would seems to take the wind out of the Phillies’ sails for the rest of the night as they would be unable to mount another threat as the game ended up being a win for the Braves.

Cole Hamels would take the lost as he pitched seven innings, giving up three runs, only two of which were earned, on eight hits, as he struck out seven. His record is now 14-10 with an ERA of 3.09. Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero would combine for two scoreless innings, giving up no hits between them, while striking out one (Romero). Mike Hampton would get the win as he pitches six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits. His record is now even at 3-3 with a 4.88 ERA. Will Ohman and Jeff Bennett would each pitch a scoreless inning, with both man giving up no hits while Bennett would walk a batter. Mike Gonzalez would record his fourteenth save of the year as he pitches a scoreless ninth, giving up no hits as he walked a batter and struck out one.

The Phillies would get done in by the kind of mistakes that they have been avoiding lately, namely a throwing error by Cole Hamels when he had Kelly Johnson dead to rights when Johnson was trying to steal third, being unable to get the clutch hit when they needed it after they had loaded up the bases and Pat Burrell’s base running blunder with no one out. With Hamels’ errant throw, even with his throwing behind Pedro Feliz, if the throw has gone into Feliz’s glove, and Johnson has been safe at third, the Braves would have been turned back as Hamels then struck out Casey Kotchman to end the inning, keeping the game tied at 1-1. This might have been the turning point of the game, as the Phillies, in the later half of the inning, would mount a bases loaded threat that would be turned back because of a pop up into foul territory by Pat Burrell that was caught by Braves’ third baseman Martin Prado. But what really killed the Phillies was Burrell’s later base running blunder in the sixth. With the play in front of him, he should’ve went back to second when Braves’ shortstop Brent Lillibridge caught Shane Victorino’s hard ground ball. Instead, he allowed himself to get trapped between second and third, and then compounded things by not staying in the base paths long enough to allow Victornio to get to second base. An added insult would be Braves’ catcher Brian McCann throwing out Victorino when Victorino tried to steal second. Hopefully the Phillies will be able to bounce back from the lost and win tonight’s game with the Braves.

The Phillies (89-69) will play the final game of their three games home stand with the Braves (70-88) tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (10-12, 4.46), who is coming off his worst outing since his return from the minors, as he lost to the Marlins on September 20, where he only went four innings plus five batters, giving up ten earned runs on nine hits, in the Phillies’ 14-8 lost. Myers should be able to come back from that start, like his did in his previous start against the Brewers on September 14, where he pitched a complete game shut out, after his lost to the Marlins on September 10. The lost makes Myers 7-3 since his return. He will be trying for his eleventh win overall while getting the Phillies a bit closer to the playoff with four games left to play. The Braves will oppose him with Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74), who is coming off a recent no-decision against the Mets on September 19, where he only lasted three and a third innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits, in the Braves’ 9-5 lost. Against the Phillies this year, he has appeared in three games, two of them starts, where his record is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA, hoping that he won’t get bombed again by the Phillies’ bats as he starts against them.

The lost would cut the Phillies’ lead over the Mets down to a game and a half as the Mets defeated the Cubs. The magic number for the Division crown is still at four. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets’ lead is still a game over the Brewers as they defeated the Pirates, while their lead over the Astros is now four and a half as they lost to the Reds. The Phillies will be trying to recover from last night’s lost, hoping for another good outing from Myers while hoping to once again sting Reyes and send the Braves packing with another lost.

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