Atlanta Braves down Phillies in extra innings

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Braves down Phillies in extra innings
After taking 10 innings to record three runs, the Atlanta Braves exploded for another three runs in the top of the 11th innings to send the Philadelphia Phillies down to defeat 6-3 in extra innings on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
It was a match which was a pitcher’s duel as much as anything. After getting a decent start out of Jair Jurgens, who conceded threes runs over six innings while striking out four and allowing just two hits, the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen was outstanding, as six other pitchers took the mound for the Braves and allowed just one hit between them, with Billy Wagner picking up his 18th save of the season.
Philadelphia also looked to be benefiting from strong pitching. Cole Hamels gave an even better start than Jurgens, going seven innings and allowing just three runs while striking out an impressive eight Braves. They then got four scoreless innings pitched by their bullpen until David Herndon came back to the mound in the 11th and promptly conceded a run by Yunel Escobar, who was batted in by a Matt Diaz double. Eric Hinske then stepped up to the plate and drove a Mike Zagurski pitch over the fence to take a three run lead and set the stage for Wagner’s save.
Clutch performances from the Braves
Citizens Bank Park is known as one of the best hitting parks in the major, and Diaz was able to take advantage of it, getting three hits with two doubles, including the one that drove in the game-winning RBI.
“It’s definitely a fun park to hit in,” said Diaz. “It’s one of the top two or three parks to hit in. In fact, it’s probably No. 1. The ball carries.”
It was the bullpen though that really won the game for the Braves, something that manager Bobby Cox acknowledged afterwards.
“Our bullpen was fantastic again,” Cox said. “"It was a fantastic 24-man effort -- we used every player except one."
That was slight hyperbole, but with seven pitchers taking the mound in total, and with eight batters having recorded hits, the Braves managed to put together a true team effort for the win.
Perhaps because of his own relatively strong performance, Hamels seemed to be frustrated after the game as he’s dropped to 1-5 in his last eight starts, and has lacked run support from his team, which was the case tonight at times.
"We've gone through the injury bug, and we need to dig deep and pick each other up," said Hamels. "We need to feel confident that we can win games."
He acknowledged the difficulty he was having, but with the All-Star break coming up, he seems to think he can bounce back.
“I’ve had some tough games,” Hamels said. “I feel comfortable and excited for the second half.”
That lack of run support was something Charlie Manuel focused on, as the Phillies committed the sin of not managing to score Ryan Howard after he tripled in the seventh innings. Jayson Werth struck out without swinging at a single pitch to follow up and his ensuing batters did no better.
“I don’t think you can hit if you don’t swing,” Manuel said, referring to Werth’s at-bat. “You got to score there. You have a man on third with nobody out, you have to score period.”
NL East race
The importance of the victory was magnified as the Phillies are currently chasing the Braves for the top position in the NL East position. With half the season left to play, the Phillies are five games back of the Braves and trail the Mets by three.



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