Braves sweep Phillies behind Harang's latest Houdini act

Rich Schultz

A win is a win.

Aaron Harang and BJ Upton delivered back to back hits in what was the decisive blow in a closely contested Braves victory.

*checks date*

*pinches self*

*blows on breathalyzer*

Yup guys this is real life. BJ’s triple drove in the Braves first two runs that proved massive as the Braves completed their sweep of the Phillies with the 3-2 victory.

The Braves grabbed their lead in the top of the second inning when Gerald Laird got a two out rally started with a single. Aaron Harang followed up with an utterly improbable single up the middle and the Twilight Zone episode continued with a BJ Upton triple to clear the bases and put the Braves up 2-0.

Marlon Byrd would strike back in the bottom of the second with the first of two solo homers he had in the game. Harang was in trouble all afternoon allowing thirteen baserunners in seven innings but the only runs he allowed were via the home run ball.

Tommy La Stella and Gerald Laird increased the Braves lead to 3-1 in the top of the fourth with back to back doubles. La Stella had four extra base hits in this series to break out of a slump in grand style. La Stella’s struggles came when he was moved into the top two spots in the orders and his good hitting returned promptly after being moved back down. I am dubious about position in the lineup noticeably impacting a player’s performance but La Stella’s weekend certainly makes me wonder about this.

Once again Byrd responded to the Braves scoring with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning. Byrd’s second homer of the day made things a one run game again and Harang kept things interesting the rest of the way but the Phillies were never able to break through. The biggest threat came in the bottom of the 7th when the Phillies put runners on the corners with one out and Superstar Ryan Howard at the plate. Howard grounded directly into the Braves shift to end the inning but it is rather bizarre Harang was left in as long as he was.

Shae Simmons breezed through the eighth and Craig Kimbrel finished things off in the ninth though Kimbrel did allow two baserunners just to make things interesting. Kimbrel has been doing a lot of that this season.

With the four game sweep of the Phillies the Braves take a half game lead in the division over the Nationals. The Braves finished the road trip at 8-3 and have put themselves in good position to start building a division lead. With Bryce Harper’s imminent return to Washington, Monday is no time to take it easy. The Mets will be in town and the Braves need to continue beating the lower table teams they are supposed to beat.

- The Phillies were 3-32 with runners in scoring position in the series. Was this because they are an immoral group of selfish players who don’t play the game the right way? Or is it difficult to string together hits when your lineup is made up of mostly middling hitters? Gotta hear both sides.

- Justin Upton made some spectacular defensive plays on this road trip. Not going make too much of it but it was awesome to see.

- Shae Simmons needs to not pitch in the ninth inning of 10-3 games so he can be used more in the eighth inning of 3-2 games.

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