Phillies sweep baffled Braves

Atlanta managed only one hit as the Phils won their 10th straight.

Posted: September 23, 2010

Jayson Werth stood on first base in the eighth inning, and Davey Lopes screamed in his ear.

"You've got to score on a double!"

"I know!"

Reliving the moment, Werth smiled.

"He always reminds you about stuff," he said of the Phillies' first-base coach. "But I already had it in my mind. I was scoring."

Why not? Right now, the Phillies cannot lose. They one-hit the Atlanta Braves to complete a three-game sweep Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, a 1-0 win in which the lone run scored when Werth scored from first on Raul Ibanez's two-out double.

The Phillies have won 10 in a row. With nine games to play, their six-game lead in the division is the largest this season. The magic number for a fourth straight National League East crown is four, meaning the division could be wrapped up as early as Saturday.

"It's all coming around about the right time," Werth said.

That could qualify as the understatement of the season. On Wednesday, the Phillies won the first-ever one-hitter at Citizens Bank Park. No, they did not blow away Atlanta here in three days. They simply made plays when they had to. They limited their mistakes. The Braves did not.

Ibanez had his second huge hit in as many days off a lefthanded Atlanta reliever. Against Jonny Venters, Ibanez connected on a 2-0 slider. He floated one deep down the left-field line that landed on the dirt of the warning track.

Running down the first-base line while watching the ball, Ibanez said he muttered 14 prayers to himself.

"No, really," he said.

Were they in English or Spanish?

"Both probably."

Werth, who reached on a two-out walk (his third pass of the night), was already at second base and only saw the ball bounce off the wall.

"I was scoring after that," Werth said.

The pitchers made it stand up. In the ninth, after Martin Prado hit a shallow fly ball to right with two out, Brad Lidge hopped off the mound and put his right hand in the air. The ball landed in Werth's glove. Lidge spun around shouting and hugged catcher Carlos Ruiz. They are feeling it now.

"There is a confidence," Ibanez said, "but nothing anywhere near arrogance."

Lidge, just as he had done in the previous two games, brilliantly closed the game in the ninth. He walked Jason Heyward with two outs but induced the fly ball from Prado to end it.

The lone Braves hit came in the fourth, when Prado hit a double into the right-center gap off Roy Oswalt. Once again, Oswalt was masterful, allowing no one to reach third base over seven innings.

If this was a postseason-like test for the three Phillies' aces, they passed. In three games, the Big Three pitched a combined 22 innings and allowed four earned runs (a 1.64 ERA). Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Oswalt struck out a total of 17 batters against four walks. Oswalt was the only one to earn a no-decision.

In 11 starts with the Phillies, Oswalt has a 1.76 ERA. He is 7-1 and has come as advertised.

"With the acquisition of Roy," manager Charlie Manuel said, "our pitching is top-notch."

Finally, on Wednesday, Atlanta had a pitching matchup it could at least feel comfortable with, as it sent Tommy Hanson to the mound. This was no Adalberto Mendez, Jason Marquis, Brandon Beachy, or Mike Minor.

For seven straight games, the Phillies had forced an opposing starter out before finishing five innings. That tied a major-league record.

Hanson pitched six shutout innings, allowing just two Phillies hits. It was the performance the Braves lacked in the first two games of this crucial series, when they sent two rookies to the mound.

That mattered little. In the eighth inning, thunder roared in the distance. The fans gasped each time they saw a bolt of lightning near Center City. Then, Ibanez's double made almost everyone stand for the rest of the game.

They waved their towels and chanted, "Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!"


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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