PHILADELPHIA — Despite playing below .500 for most of the season, the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t given up hope of another division title. And more games like Sunday’s result certainly will help.
Freshly chosen All-Star Domonic Brown homered, tripled and drove in two runs, leading the Phillies over the Atlanta Braves 7-3.
Ben Revere hit a two-run triple for Philadelphia, which took two of three from the NL East-leading Braves.
“We have to go right now,” Brown said. “We’re definitely fighting and battling.”
The Phillies, who won five straight NL East titles from 2007-11, are 7 1/2 games behind Atlanta. They will try to make up more ground by hosting second-place Washington for four games beginning Monday.
“Hopefully we can win the series against the Nats,” Brown said.
The Phillies also took two of three at NL Central-leading Pittsburgh last week.
“It feels great to finally start swinging the bats as a team,” Brown said.
Even without slugger Ryan Howard, who went on the 15-day DL on Saturday with left knee inflammation, manager Charlie Manuel still believes in his club.
“If we stay at it and grind it out, we can win,” Manuel said. “We’ve been there before. What the heck? We have guys in our clubhouse who know how to win.”
The Phillies also are relying on unproven talent, particularly in their bullpen. They used five relievers on a hot day that began with a gametime temperature of 95 degrees to back Jonathan Pettibone (5-3), who allowed one run on five hits in 5 1-3 innings while tying his career high with six strikeouts against one walk.
“There are going to be growing pains,” Manuel said of the bullpen. “The more consistent they get, that’s how we’re going to win.”
Chris Johnson homered and Brian McCann got three hits for Atlanta, which has lost 10 of its last 15 road games. McCann finished 9 for 12 in the series and is batting .512 (22 for 43) over his last 11 games.
“Even though we had 10 hits we couldn’t put up enough crooked numbers,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You get 10 hits, you can’t blame the offense.”
Kris Medlen (6-8) gave up a season-high six earned runs in 5 1-3 innings.
Medlen had won three straight and five of his last six starts. He surrendered eight hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
“It came down to execution and I didn’t execute,” Medlen said. “They’re a veteran team and they make you throw it down the middle. They’re a quality team. It was one of those days for me.”
The Phillies jumped out to a 4-0 lead through four innings. Brown’s RBI triple and Delmon Young’s single staked Philadelphia to a 2-0 advantage in the first.
Revere tripled home two more in the fourth. He is batting .337 since May 1.
The Braves scored in the fifth on Medlen’s opposite-field RBI single. The first five runs of the game came with two outs.
Brown, picked Saturday to his first All-Star team, got that run back in the bottom of the fifth by turning on Medlen’s inside pitch and just clearing the wall in right for his 23rd homer.
“It was down, I thought it might hit him,” Medlen said. “What can I say?” He’s an All-Star and he’s having a heck of a year.”
The Phillies were gifted a pair of runs in the sixth when Darin Ruf and Carlos Ruiz scored on Alex Wood’s wild pitch and McCann’s throwing error on the play.
Johnson’s homer and Jason Heyward’s single accounted for the Braves’ two runs in the seventh.
Atlanta’s B.J. Upton was ejected in the fifth by plate umpire Doug Eddings for arguing after being called out on strikes. Upton went 0 for 2, dropping his average to .175 with 96 strikeouts.
“B.J. didn’t say very much from where I was standing,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know what he said at the plate.”
NOTES: Atlanta reliever Luis Ayala allowed one hit in a scoreless seventh inning. Ayala, activated from the DL on Friday after being out due to anxiety disorder, was pitching in his first game since April 24. ... The Braves open a three-game series at Miami on Monday night. LHP Mike Minor (8-4, 3.15) takes the mound for the Atlanta against RHP Kevin Slowey (3-6, 4.24). ... Phillies LHP John Lannan (1-3, 5.15) is scheduled to oppose Washington RHP Dan Haren (4-9, 6.15) when the teams open a four-game series in Philadelphia on Monday night.
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