published Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Phillies beat Braves for 100th victory of season

  • photo
    Philadelphia Phillies' Shane Victorino (8) slides into third base with a triple as Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (10) takes the high throw in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, in Atlanta. Philadelphia won 4-2. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA — In their continuing quest to dot all the i's and cross all the t's before they play another meaningful game, the Phillies found themselves in what could pass as a playoff setting Monday night at Turner Field.

The Braves are in desperation mode, hell-bent on winning, because St. Louis is threatening to steal the wild card from them.

The Phillies are putting what could be their playoff lineup through some dry runs, and a little resistance from a determined opponent might help get them in the proper frame of mind for the National League division series, which begins Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies have a stake in the Braves-Cardinals battle because they can help determine their first-round opponent. But the Phils seemed more interested in polishing their game for October as they finally nailed down their 100th win by defeating Atlanta, 4-2.

The Braves hold a one-game lead over St. Louis in the wild-card race with two games remaining.

"I look at our team, and when we've got all our guys on the field we're ready to play right now," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I know the Braves need wins, but we just played our game."

Jimmy Rollins continued his surge with a home run and a single. He is 8 for 16 in the first four games of a six-game trip.

Cliff Lee, who is expected to start Game 2 of the NLDS Sunday, had a good workout in his final start of the regular season to get his 17th win. The lefthander went six innings and gave up two runs and five hits before he was pulled after 92 pitches. He struck out six, which boosted his season total to 238, the most for any Phillies lefthander since Steve Carlton led the majors with 275 in 1983.

In his last 27 innings against the Braves, Lee has given up three runs. One came on a homer by Chipper Jones in the first inning. Alex Gonzalez gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead with a second-inning double that glanced off Hunter Pence's glove in right field.

In his last four innings, Lee faced one batter over the minimum.

"We want to win every game," Lee said. "We don't want to roll over for anybody. That would be unfair to every other team. We've kind of scuffled the last week or so, and we want to get everything right before the playoffs. We don't want to slack off for anyone."

After the Phillies stumbled through a listless eight-game losing streak following the clincher, Manuel played his regulars Sunday against the Mets in New York. They erupted for nine runs and 19 hits, nearly one-third as many hits as they'd had in the previous eight games combined.

Manuel wrote out the same lineup card for the opener of the final regular-season series. It emphasizes the flexibility Pence has given him since the gangly rightfielder was acquired from Houston July 30.

The righthanded hitter the Phillies badly needed, Pence had batted mostly fifth to help protect cleanup hitter Ryan Howard. But for the second consecutive game, Pence batted third and struggling Chase Utley moved up to second, where he has a .315 average with a .391 on-base percentage in 173 career games. Shane Victorino dropped down to fifth, behind Howard.

As a switch-hitter, Victorino can make opposing managers think twice about bringing lefthanders out of the bullpen to face Howard. The centerfielder is hitting .305 righthanded, and half his 36 hits from that side of the plate were for extra bases.

Victorino illustrated that Monday with a double off lefty reliever Jonny Venters in the eighth inning.

"This year, with his batting average and everything, he's been strong from the right side," Manuel said. "He's a good fit for us right now right there. And I like Pence in front of Howard because he's a .300 hitter."

Meanwhile, Brad Lidge got into and out of a tight situation and may have strengthened his case to become the eighth-inning reliever if Antonio Bastardo continues to struggle.

"He's a veteran," Manuel said. "He's been a good closer most of his life. He has the most experience of any guy down there."

Lidge got out of trouble by getting Jones to bounce into a double play.

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