Now that it has been assured, the Phillies can afford to get a little greedy and go for three out of four this afternoon.
With another stirring late-game comeback, the Phils thrilled a Veterans Stadium crowd of 30,167 last night, beating the Braves for the second time in three games, 4-3.
Not only was the attendance well above the Phillies' average, but the fans acted as if they'd fallen in love with this feisty team.
"I never doubted the fans wanted to like us," said closer Wayne Gomes, who registered his 15th save. "I think they just weren't sure if they could believe in us. With what we've done so far in this series, maybe they're starting to believe in us."
The victory pulled the Phils to within 4 games of the division-leading Braves. But the Braves have more to worry about than the Phillies. Their lead over the second-place New York Mets in the National League East is down to a scant half-game.
There was plenty to like about the way the Phils won this one. They trailed by 3-0 after 5 innings only to come back and tie the score with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. An inning later, Bobby Abreu singled home Doug Glanville with the go-ahead run.
On Friday night, the Phillies split a doubleheader with the Braves, fighting back from a 5-0 deficit to claim Game 1.
Phils starter Chad Ogea survived a bases-loaded threat in the first inning last night and pitched six innings. He allowed three runs, all on homers by Andruw Jones and Ryan Klesko.
Atlanta righthander John Smoltz came off the disabled list and held the Phillies to two hits over five innings. However, he allowed three consecutive hits in the sixth as the Phils mounted their spirited comeback.
The bottom of the sixth featured two close plays at the plate, two arguments with home-plate umpire Bruce Froemming, and the ejection of Atlanta manager Bobby Cox.
Cox thought Froemming had squeezed Smoltz on an 0-2 pitch to Ron Gant that looked pretty good on replays.
Gant ended up belting a single, putting runners on first and third with none out.
"It ruined the whole game and cost Smoltz a win," Cox said of the call on the 0-2 pitch.
The next batter, Abreu, singled off Smoltz to make it a 3-1 game.
Gant eventually was thrown out at the plate by Jones. But Rico Brogna and Gary Bennett came through with RBI singles off reliever Mike Remlinger to tie the score.
Bennett's clutch hit came with two out. The reserve catcher doesn't play much, but when he does, he produces. He has 15 hits and 14 RBIs this season.
Abreu's game-winning single came on a nasty 1-2 slider by lefty Micah Bowie.
"That was a nice piece of hitting," Phillies manager Terry Francona said. "Bobby had never seen that guy before. That's usually the only time he has trouble - when he's facing a lefty he's never seen before."
In the Game 1 win Friday, the Phillies' bullpen pitched four scoreless innings. This time, it picked up three innings and held the Braves scoreless. Steve Montgomery pitched 1 innings. Gomes got the final four outs of the game.
Ogea easily could have been knocked out of the game in the first inning. He allowed singles to the first two batters of the game - Walt Weiss and Bret Boone - and walked the next hitter, Chipper Jones, to load the bases. The walk did not sit well with the paying customers, who showered Ogea with boos.
Ogea, however, turned those boos into cheers in a hurry. With the bases choked, he methodically got out of the inning. He struck out dangerous Brian Jordan (79 RBIs), got Klesko to pop up to first, and then retired Javy Lopez on a hard-hit grounder to shortstop.
The successful escape gave Ogea some momentum, and he retired the Braves in order in the next two innings. He then retired the first two hitters in the fourth before trouble hit. Lopez doubled to left and Andruw Jones followed with a scorching two-run homer into the left-field seats.
"I know Chad gave up a couple of homers," Francona said. "But when you look at the whole game, he pitched pretty good. He only gave up three runs. It's our job to score more than that."