Braves rally to lead before falling 5-4

Braves rally to lead before falling 5-4

May 14th, 2011 by Associated Press in Sports - Professional

ATLANTA - A trio of 25-and-under relief pitchers came through in the late innings for Charlie Manuel and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Raul Ibanez snapped a tie with a run-scoring single in the eighth inning, Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer and Philadelphia beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on Friday night.

The big hit by Ibanez followed a strong seventh inning by relievers Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo (2-0) after the Braves loaded the bases against J.C. Romero.

The 24-year-old Stutes struck out Dan Uggla before Bastardo, 25, struck out Freddie Freeman to end the inning.

"I think I put them in the fire, didn't I?" manager Manuel asked.

Another young reliever, 23-year-old Vance Worley, pitched a scoreless eighth before veteran Ryan Madson pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

"It's neat how it worked out. All of us have come together," said Stutes, 24. "I think it's helped us all grow up."

Uggla gave Stutes and the Phillies a scare when he hit a long fly ball foul before striking out.

"[Stutes] stayed with it and came right back," Manuel said. "That was good."

With pinch-runner Jason Heyward on second base in the ninth, Madson struck out Uggla to end the game.

Howard led off the eighth with a double to right field. With one out, Ibanez singled to right. Joe Mather's throw beat Howard to the plate but short-hopped catcher Brian McCann, who couldn't hold on as Howard scored the go-ahead run.

Braves reliever Cristhian Martinez retired all 12 batters he faced and had a two-run double. He took over for Brandon Beachy, who left with a left oblique injury after two innings.

"It's a classic oblique, and that's not good," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Beachy said was injured when he struck out swinging in the bottom of the second inning. He was pulled during his warmup tosses before the third.

Howard's three-run homer in the first drove in Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco, who had singles.

Martinez had four strikeouts. He delivered the surprise of the night when he drove in two runs with a double off Cole Hamels in the fifth for the first hit and RBIs of his career. The double, which drove in Alex Gonzalez and Mather, tied the game at 3.

"He tomahawked a high fastball," Manuel said. "That was actually a pretty good piece of hitting."

With two outs in the sixth, Gonzalez singled and moved to third on Mather's double. With pinch-hitter Diory Hernandez at the plate, Hamels threw a wild pitch, allowing Gonzalez to score for a 4-3 lead.

The Phillies pulled even in the seventh when Jimmy Rollins hit a two-out double off Eric O'Flaherty (1-2) and scored on Victorino's single.

O'Flaherty and McCann began to leave the field on what they believed was a called third strike on Victorino, but umpire David Rackley called the pitch a ball. Victorino then tied it with his single to center, leaving McCann complaining to the umpire.

Chipper Jones had a run-scoring single in the first to drive in Martin Prado, who had three hits. Gonzalez also had three hits for Atlanta.

Left-hander Mike Minor and righty Rodrigo Lopez are the top candidates to be recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett if Beachy is placed on the disabled list, as expected. Heyward missed his third straight with inflammation in his right shoulder, but he entered the game as a pinch-runner in the ninth.