Tim Hudson pitched one of his best games of the year, O’Flambrel was perfect over 1 2/3 innings, and the Braves made single runs in the second and third innings hold up even though Cliff Lee struck out 11 men in 8 innings.
The Braves should have scored more, though. As is often the case, Lee was a lot more gettable in the early innings than he was later in the game. In the first inning, the Braves squandered runners at the corners; in the second, David Ross hit a mammoth solo shot. In the third, the Braves loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles by Reed Johnson and Martin Prado, and Jason Heyward was safe at first on a squibber that Lee couldn’t pick up cleanly.
And then the Braves that you and I know so well showed up. Freddie Freeman struck out. Dan Uggla hit a long sacrifice fly. And then Jeff Baker grounded out. I mean, at least they scored, but you ought to score more than one run if you load the bases with no outs.
Baker was 0-4 and is now 1-9 as a Brave; he hasn’t gotten a lot of chances to succeed, but he certainly hasn’t made a forceful case for more playing time. I would say the same for Lyle Overbay, who lined out while pinch-hitting for Eric O’Flaherty in the 9th. Overbay is 1-15 with 7 strikeouts as a Brave. There’s basically no way to put either of them ahead of Juan Francisco on the playoff roster.
The Phillies got their lone run on a bit of ABE baseball in the 6th. Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a walk, got to second when Hudson threw the ball away — it was reminiscent of Medlen throwing the ball away on Wednesday, pretty much his only mistake that day. Anyway, Juan Pierre sacrificed Rollins to third, and Utley hit a sac fly to score Rollins, which would have been a hit but Heyward made a beautiful diving catch.
The magic number is down to 2. As I write this, the Cardinals are beating the Cubs, but if the Cubs manage to hold on then the magic number could be 1 by tonight. The Phillies scored their only run today without a hit, and they pretty much had to: they only got two hits and one walk all day. Hudson threw 85 pitches, 59 for strikes, striking out four, walking one, and allowing just two singles. IWOTP, but it was still beautiful.