for this game

Happ strong in spot start as Phillies blank Braves

Sep 18, 2008 - 4:17 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- A gutsy move by manager Charlie Manuel in the middle of a pennant race paid dividends for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Rookie J.A. Happ tossed six superb innings and Carlos Ruiz plated a pair of runs as the Phillies cruised to their sixth consecutive win Wednesday, a 6-1 triumph over the Atlanta Braves.

Ryan Howard continued to decimate Atlanta's pitching, plating a run with a single during a four-run first for Philadelphia (85-67), which remained one-half game ahead of the New York Mets (84-67) atop the National League East Division standings. The Mets held on for a 9-7 victory over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

With his team clinging to the slim lead in its quest to repeat as division champion, Manuel decided to replace the struggling Kyle Kendrick with Happ, who was making his third start of the season and seventh overall appearance in the major leagues.

Kendrick has had problems down the stretch in his sophomore campaign, posting a 5.71 ERA over his last five starts. He also allowed a staggering 13 runs over his last two outings.

Happ (1-0) had no such trouble against the Braves, holding the club to just a double and two singles while walking one and striking out two. He easily sliced through Atlanta's lineup, not allowing a runner past first base until Brian McCann doubled to lead off the fifth.

"Obviously, I knew somebody was needed for a spot start," said Happ, who had not appeared in a game since September 9. "I had two pretty decent starts last time I got an opportunity. I wanted to build on those and prove that I could do it."

The lefthander departed after tossing 86 pitches - 52 for strikes.

"I don't see how you could ask for anything better than that," Manuel said. "He did a heck of a job for us. It was a tremendous outing."

"It's awesome," Happ said of getting an opportunity during the pennant race. "I understand the place we're in. I'm glad to keep the momentum on our side and help us stay on a roll."

Manuel admitted he had no idea what to expect from Happ.

"I didn't know what I was going to get," Manuel said. "If you give a guy a chance, you don't know how he's going to react. But heck, (Christopher) Columbus took a chance."

Philadelphia wasted no time providing Happ with a lead, sending nine batters to the plate in the first inning en route to improving to 8-0 at Turner Field this season.

"They just seem to have our number," said Atlanta's Kelly Johnson, who singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. "Tonight, they got off to a quick jump. When we get a jump against them, they seem to come back."

As always against the Braves, Howard was in the middle of the rally. The slugger entered this one batting .356 (26-for-73) with nine home runs, 28 RBI and an 18-game hitting streak vs. Atlanta.

"The way he is swinging it right now, the guys in front of him need to get on base any way (they can)," Philadelphia's Jayson Werth said. "He's one of the best players of all time in September."

After Jair Jurrjens (13-10) issued one-out walks to Chase Utley and Werth, Howard laced a single between first and second base to plate the game's first run.

"I was trying to attack Jayson," Jurrjens said. "I wasn't getting any borderline calls because I was wild. It was a big, big mistake walking them."

Werth stole third base and scored when catcher McCann's throw glanced off of his back and into shallow left field. The Phillies loaded the bases on a single by Shane Victorino and a walk to Pedro Feliz, bringing up another nemesis of the Braves.

Ruiz - who has belted five of his 13 career homers against Atlanta - delivered, hitting a two-run single to left-center field for a 4-0 bulge.

"That helped a lot," Happ said. "These guys gave me a little bit of confidence. It calmed me down a little bit."

Philadelphia added another run in the eighth thanks to a mental breakdown by Atlanta second baseman Johnson, who allowed the Phillies to stage an improbable comeback here on June 6 by dropping a pop-up that would have been the game's final out.

Johnson lost track of the outs on a grounder by Feliz in this one, throwing to first base instead of feeding the ball to shortstop Omar Infante to start a potential double play. The mistake allowed pinch runner Eric Bruntlett to score, extending the lead to 5-0.

Pinch hitter Matt Stairs capped the scoring for Philadelphia with a leadoff homer in the ninth.

Jurrjens failed in his bid for a third straight win, surrendering four runs, five hits and five walks in five innings.

Greg Norton spoiled the Phillies' shutout hopes with a pinch RBI single off Clay Condrey in the ninth.

Philadelphia improved to 12-2 against Atlanta this season.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    PHILADELPHIA 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 10 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 7 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: PHI - J.A. HAPP, CHAD DURBIN (7TH), J.C. ROMERO (8TH), CLAY CONDREY
    (9TH) AND CARLOS RUIZ
    ATL - JAIR JURRJENS, VLADIMIR NUNEZ (6TH), BLAINE BOYER
    (8TH) AND BRIAN M

    Sep 17 9:59 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY GREG NORTON SCORED JEFF FRANCOEUR.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, G NORTON ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 6
    ATLANTA 1 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: G BLANCO (.255, 0-FOR-1)

    Phillies 6, Braves 1  Bot 9, 0 OutsSep 17 9:58 PM
  • 10
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Phillies 6, Braves 0  Bot 9, 0 OutsSep 17 9:54 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY MATT STAIRS (1) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    9TH OFF BLAINE BOYER.
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 6, ATLANTA 0
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: J ROLLINS (.280, 1-FOR-4)

    Phillies 6, Braves 0  Top 9, 0 OutsSep 17 9:42 PM


  • NL
    AT ATLANTA - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY PEDRO FELIZ SCORED ERIC BRUNTLETT.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, S VICTORINO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PHILADELPHIA 5
    ATLANTA 0 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR PHILADELPHIA: C RUIZ (.230, 1-FOR-2, BB, 2 RBI)

    Phillies 5, Braves 0  Top 8, 0 OutsSep 17 9:26 PM


  • NL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    PHILADELPHIA 4 4 3 0
    ATLANTA 0 0 1 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: PHI - J.A. HAPP
    ATL - JAIR JURRJENS

    DUE UP FOR ATLANTA: M PRADO (.326, 2 HR, 28 RBI)
    K JOHNSON (.285, 11 HR, 64 RBI)
    C JONES (.365, 21 HR, 72 RBI)

    Phillies 4, Braves 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsSep 17 7:30 PM
  • 5
    roots
    Lemonman Added 5 roots

    Phillies vs. BravesSep 16 7:48 PM