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Friday, April 06, 2007

Atlanta Braves Complete Three-Game Sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies

By David

The Braves entered Thursday afternoon's game against the divisional rival Phillies with one goal in mind. That goal was to sweep them and return to Turner Field 3-0 for the first time since 1994. It would be a tall order against right-hander Adam Eaton who was making his Phili debut, but the Braves' bats were ready for the test.

With shortstop Edgar Renteira on first Chipper Jones hit a weak grounder to Ryan Howard who in an attempt to complete the double play wildly threw the ball into left field. As a result of Howard's miscue, Brian McCann who had been 5 for 9 in the series leading up to this at bat, ripped a 2-run single to put his team ahead.

Opposing Eaton was young left-hander Chuck James who has been picked by many to have a breakout season. James was aided by the frigid temperatures yesterday in Philadelphia and the fierce wind was able to hold in two monsterous shots hit by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Pat Burrell put the Phillies on the board in the bottom of the 4th with an RBI double to left. Left fielder Ryan Langerhans misjudged the ball and had it roll all the way to the wall. In the same inning with runners on the corners, Aaron Rowand struck out, followed by a fly out by Rod Barajas to end the threat.

Adam Eaton had been pitching quality baseball until he entered the top of the fifth and saw the Braves bats come a live in a hurry. After committing a cardinal sin by walking the pitcher Chuck James, Kelly Johnson clobbered a breaking ball into the right field stands. This was his first hit of the season and first long ball since August 15th of 2005. Atlanta continued the onslaught in the fifth as Andruw Jones smacked an RBI double to deep left center and Jeff Francoeur added an RBI single to knock Eaton out of the game.

After blowing the first two games of the series, the Phillies bullpen was out for redemption. Unfortunately Scott Thorman of the Braves had other ideas as he belted a 2-run double to right to give Atlanta an 8-1 lead. In total, the Braves scored six runs in the fifth and handed starter Chuck James a seven run lead.

If not for his high pitch count [92] James would have lasted past the fifth inning, but he was still in line for his first win of 2007. Oscar Villarreal, who struggled during spring training, came onto pitch in the sixth and surrendered a leadoff double to Burrell. The Phillies left fielder later scored on a ground ball to make the score 8-2, but his team would not have enough offensive fire power from their big bats to attempt a comeback.

Philadelphia went onto lose the game 8-4 and have now started the season 0-3 as they head to South Florida to begin a three-game series with the Marlins.

Notes: Pat Burrell missed a fly ball in foul territory in the eight inning and was heavily booed by the crowd. Relief pitcher Clay Condrey came on in the seventh inning and struck out the first five batters he faced. The record for consecutive strikeouts by a Phili reliever is six. Philadelphia left fourteen base runners stranded during the game.

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