published Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Phillies smash Atlanta Braves, 6-2

Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley, right, steals second base as third baseman Chipper Jones tries to tag in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 6-2.
Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley, right, steals second base as third baseman Chipper Jones tries to tag in the sixth inning of a baseball game, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 6-2.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PHILADELPHIA — Kevin Frandsen hit one of Philadelphia's four solo homers to back Kyle Kendrick, and the Phillies inched closer in the National League playoff race with a 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also homered for the resurgent Phillies, who pulled within three games of St. Louis for the league's second wild-card spot with their fourth straight win. Milwaukee and Los Angeles also stand in Philadelphia's way with 11 games remaining.

Despite the loss, the Braves are in excellent position to secure a postseason berth. Their magic number for clinching a spot was five, pending the outcome of the Milwaukee-Washington game.

Kendrick (10-11) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six. He is 6-2 with a 2.17 ERA since Aug. 14.

The Phillies aren't going to win their sixth straight NL East title, but they have made a remarkable turnaround to still be playing meaningful games. When two-time All-Star outfielders Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino were traded on July 31, the Phillies were 45-57 and 13 games behind the second wild-card team. They are 32-17 since and have gained 10 games in the standings.

Atlanta's Tommy Hanson (12-9) gave up five runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings to remain winless since July 30. Hanson is 0-4 in his last seven starts.

The Phillies honored retiring Braves third baseman Chipper Jones during a pregame ceremony. Philadelphia infielders Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley presented the eight-time All-Star with a painting of himself taking a swing in the batter's box.

Jones received a standing ovation from a crowd that has booed him relentlessly over the years. He waved his cap in appreciation and tipped his hat again while walking back to the dugout.

Fans returned to booing when Jones came up in the eighth, and then they cheered when he struck out to end the inning. Jones has hit two walkoff homers against the Phillies this season.

Frandsen hit a towering shot to left field to give Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the third inning. The journeyman infielder has filled in nicely for the injured Placido Polanco, hitting .329 in 155 at-bats.

Howard and Ruiz made it 4-1 with consecutive homers in the fourth. Howard has launched homers three straight days, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth to lift the Phillies over the Mets 3-2 on Wednesday night in New York.

Ruiz hit an RBI single to extend the lead to 5-1 in the sixth.

Michael Bourn's RBI single with two outs in the seventh got the Braves within 5-2 and ended Kendrick's night.

Juan Pierre tripled and scored on Utley's RBI groundout for a 1-0 Phillies lead in the first. Pierre is hitting .458 (22-for-48) in his last 16 games.

Brian McCann's RBI groundout in the second tied it.

Jones entered the game with a .332 career average against the Phillies, and he has 49 homers and 151 RBIs in 244 games.

Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons could return to the lineup today, when Atlanta pitches Mike Minor (9-11) with Roy Halladay (10-7) going for the Phillies. Simmons injured his right shoulder Monday. Fellow shortstop Paul Janish could be out three to four weeks with a dislocated left shoulder.

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