The Braves gave Horacio Ramirez an early lead
After tonight's ESPN Game of the Week™ -- and what a game it was! -- the Braves have played three games against all four of their division rivals, winding up with a 6-6 record after two weeks, and proving the NL East to be the tightest division in MLB. The Braves took two of three from both the Marlins and Mets, then lost two of three from the Nationals and Phillies.
Let's take a closer look at this weekend's series against the Phillies:
Friday night with four two-out runs in the first, including a base-clearing double from Brian Jordan. (Jordan is now 2-for-2 with a double, a home run, and seven RBI with the bases loaded!) Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the third, and Raul Mondesi and Rafael Furcal added two solo homers each. Ramirez walked four and gave up three runs, but the Braves tagged Gavin Floyd for eight runs to give Ramirez his first win.
John Smoltz had another brilliant game
spoiled with his name in the "L" column Saturday night, allowing only two runs in seven innings to bring his inflated ERA a little closer to the ground (it's down to 5.62). But the Braves offense only managed one run on seven hits off Jon Lieber, and a ninth-inning rally off closer Billy Wagner was spoiled when Chase Utley made a brilliant play to spear Brian Jordan's liner up the middle to end the game.
Sunday night was pitchers' night
, with Mike Hampton and Brett Myers engaging in a pitching duel for the ages. Both pitched eight shutout innings, allowing a combined seven hits and two walks. Hampton's ERA dropped to 0.82, and Myers' dropped to 0.44. Closers Danny Kolb and Billy Wagner allowed a hit apiece but no runs in the ninth to send the scoreless game to the tenth.
That's where pitchers' night ended.
The Braves broke through off Ryan Madson with two singles and a sacrifice fly from Raul Mondesi to start the tenth. Madson retired the next three batters, including striking out Kolb in his first major league plate appearance (his 175th career game), to send the Phillies to bat in the bottom of the tenth... where the Braves were unable to even record an out.
Kolb walked two batters and threw the ball down the left field line on a sacrifice bunt attempt, then allowed another sacrifice bunt attempt to become a hit when Kolb and Johnny Estrada couldn't make sense of it. Kevin Gryboski finally came on to give up the game-winning single to Placido Polanco.
. . .
Hitting wasn't horrible
this weekend, but it wasn't great either. Even while scoring 11 runs Friday night, the Braves only managed nine hits, and they only hit .240 (25-for-104) for the series. Pitching was good but wild (22 hits, 14 walks, eight runs in 27 innings for a 2.67 ERA), and it wasn't enough to overcome the Braves scoring only two runs in 19 innings between Saturday and Sunday.
The Braves are off to Houston to battle the Astros for a two-game mini-series Monday (TBS 8pm) and Tuesday (TSo 8pm) followed by another two-game set in DC against the Nationals Wednesday (FxSp 7pm) and Thursday (TBS 1pm).