By Chris Murray
For the CM Report
After enduring a one-hour and 52-minute rain delay, the Phillies and the Brave finally got a small window of nonprecipitation and played
the second game of their three-game series at Citizen’s Bank Park.
What was left of the announced paid attendance of 44,781 saw the Phillies win their 90th game of the season with a 6-3 victory over the second-place Braves (82-69).
It was the fourth straight year in which the Phillies have won at least 90 games in a season. No other team in the history of the franchise has ever that many games this early in September. Not only did the Phillies move to 9 ½ games ahead of the Braves, but they’ve reduced their magic number to clinch the National League East to 14 games.
Just as it is reflected in the standings, the Phillies always seemed to be a few steps ahead of the Braves. Everytime Atlanta narrowed the margin on the scoreboard, the Phillies would surge further ahead to counter the Braves rally.
“I think it’s a testament to our team and the way that we play,” said left fielder Raul Ibanez. “We take nothing for granted. We go out there and we battle every game. There’s definitely expectation to win on this club.”
And speaking of Ibanez, he came up big for the Phillies on offense. He was 3-for-4 with three runs batted in and game up big whenever he had a chance to knock home men in scoring position. Chase Utley homered in the Philllies half of the first inning to get things going. The Phils never trailed in this game.
“He hit the ball hard tonight, he swung real good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Meanwhile, Vance Worley (11-1) had another solid effort on the mound for the Phillies. In six innings of work, he gave up just two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. Perhaps his biggest moment of the game came in the sixth inning when the Braves had the bases load with nobody out. Just when it looked like Atlanta was about to break it open, Worley pitched his away out of it and retired the next three batters, allowing just one run on a sacrifice fly.
“I don’t like to put myself in those situations, but it seems like I find myself in that spot quite often and I know I just need to make a pitch to get myself out of it,” Worley said. “What’s going to make me a better pitcher is getting strike one and getting guys before they get on base and not getting myself out of jams.”
It was the Phillies 14th straight win with Worley on the mound.
The Phillies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run by Chase Utley and an RBI single by Ibanez that scored Ryan Howard, who reached on a two-out single and went to second on base hit by Hunter Pence.
The Braves narrowed the margin to 2-1 on a leadoff solo home run by third baseman Dan Uggla, who stretched his hitting streak to 10 games.
Atlanta evened the game at 2-2 in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded by shortstop Alex Gonzales that plated home Dan Uggla, who walked to open the inning. But then Worley retired right fielder Jose Costanza on a line out to left and Hudson, who inexplicably was batting for himself with a man on second with two outs, with a short fly ball to center.
The Phillies would come back with a pair of runs in their half of the sixth inning to take a 4-2 lead. Howard scored from the third on a wild pitch. He reached on a walk to start the winning and then went to third on a double by Pence. Ibanez drove in Pence with a double to center.
The Braves cut the margin to 4-3 in the seventh on Uggla’s ground ball out that scored Michael Bourn, who reached on a double and then stole third. The Phillies scored two more runs in their half of the seventh for the final margin of victory.