In it to win it

Phillies’ sweep is a blow to Braves’ hopes of win­ning di­vi­sion, and the NL wild-card race tight­ens as well.

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - Kevin Bax­ter

The At­lanta Braves sure picked a bad time to go into a slump.

De­spite spend­ing 106 days atop the Na­tional League East this sea­son, the Braves and re­tir­ing Man­ager Bobby Cox woke up Thurs­day in dan­ger of missing the play­offs com­pletely af­ter be­ing swept in a three­game se­ries by the surg­ing Phillies.

The Braves have al­ready lost more games in Septem­ber — 12 — than have they had in each of the pre­vi­ous four months, which is not a good trend when you con­sider Philadel­phia, the hottest team in base­ball, has won 21 of its last 25.

The Phillies closed out the sweep with Roy Oswalt and a pair of re­liev­ers com­bin­ing on a one-hit­ter in a 1-0 win. Raul Ibanez drove in the only run with a two-out dou­ble in the eighth in­ning, push­ing At­lanta six games back in the di­vi­sion race and drop­ping Philadel­phia’s magic num­ber to clinch the di­vi­sion ti­tle to four.

The Braves get Thurs­day off be­fore re­sum­ing play in Washington on Fri­day. The Phillies will play host to the Mets in a three-game week­end se­ries.

“We’ve got to go back to Square One and get back on track,” catcher Brian McCann told re­porters after­ward. “This is our sea­son. We’ve got nine games left. We dug our­selves in a lit­tle bit of a hole here and we’ve got to dig our­selves up.”

At­lanta also saw its mar­gin in the wild-card race cut to just a half-game over San Fran­cisco, which was also shut out Wed­nes­day, los­ing to Randy Wells and the Chicago Cubs, 2-0. That al­lowed the Padres to slip past the Giants and into the NL West lead with a 3-1 win over the Dodgers. The Colorado Rock­ies re­mained three back in both the di­vi­sion and wild-card stand­ings af­ter blow­ing a four-run first-in­ning lead in an 8-4 loss at Ari­zona. Ubaldo Jimenez, bid­ding for this 20th win, lasted just four in­nings.

In the lone Amer­i­can League race still in doubt, Tampa Bay got back-to-back homers from Carl Craw­ford and Evan Longoria to slog to a rain-plagued 7-2 win over the Yan­kees, cut­ting New York’s ad­van­tage in the East to 11⁄

2 games.

The teams, which played un­til 12:34 a.m. EDT, meet for the fi­nal time this sea­son Thurs­day. The Rays close their sea­son with 10 games against Seat­tle, Bal­ti­more and Kansas City, which are all at least 27 games un­der .500. The Yan­kees will play six with Bos­ton and three with Toronto, both teams with win­ning records.

Jeff Gross

NL WEST: SAN DIEGO 3, DODGERS 1 David Eck­stein, left, and Adrian Gon­za­lez greet Miguel Te­jada af­ter Te­jada’s homer in the third in­ning against the Dodgers

as the Padres moved ahead of Giants for NL West lead. C5

Ray Stub­blebine

AL EAST: TAMPA BAY 7, NEW YORK 2 Evan Longoria is con­grat­u­lated af­ter hit­ting the sec­ond of two con­sec­u­tive home runs in the sev­enth in­ning, as the Rays

pulled within 11⁄ games of the di­vi­sion-lead­ing Yan­kees.

2 C4

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