PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An offensive funk sent the Phillies to a four-game sweep by the Atlanta Braves.
B.J. Upton tripled and drove in two runs Sunday to lead streaking Atlanta to a 3-2 victory over the Phillies and their first four-game sweep in Philadelphia in 50 years.
Marlon Byrd hit a pair of solo home runs for the slumping Phillies, who have lost eight of 10 to drop to 10 games under .500.
“It didn’t go our way,” Phillies slugger Ryan Howard said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way. It just wasn’t meant to be for us in this series.”
Chase Utley singled in the seventh inning for his 1,500th career hit. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman greeted Utley with applause and a pat on the back, and the crowd of 33,215 gave the Phillies’ second baseman a standing ovation.
There wasn’t much else for the home fans to cheer.
Philadelphia dropped to 18-27 at Citizens Bank Park and fell to 7-35 when scoring three runs or less as its offense continued to struggle. The Phillies were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, finishing the series 3 for 32.
“Hitting in the clutch and hitting with men on base is a component we have to get better at,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “We came up short in this series. It could’ve been a big point for us.”
The Phillies finished with 13 hits and had plenty of chances to avoid the Braves’ first four-game sweep in Philadelphia since Sept. 24-27, 1964, when the franchise was in Milwaukee and their four wins at Connie Mack Stadium contributed to the Phillies’ infamous season-ending collapse that year.
The last chance came in the ninth against Craig Kimbrel, who had to work out of a jam for his 24th save in 28 opportunities. Kimbrel got the first two batters out before consecutive singles by Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins put runners on first and third for Utley. But he flew out to right to end the game.
“The last week or so that’s what’s been lacking, a big hit,” Sandberg said. “That’s what made us successful on the past road trip coming up with some clutch hits and that’s what we lacked on this homestand.”
The Phillies had chances to tie after Gerald Laird’s fourth-inning double put the Braves ahead 3-2.
The Phillies threatened in the sixth when they put runners on first and second with nobody out. But Koyie Hill’s sacrifice bunt attempt resulted in the lead runner being forced out at third, and pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr. grounded into an inning-ending double play.
And Philadelphia had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh when Howard grounded into another inning-ending double play.
“The pitching gave us a chance to win,” Sandberg said. “We had our chances, had men on base, couldn’t come up with a hit with multiple guys on base.”
Laird had two hits with a double and RBI for the Braves, who won for the sixth time in seven games while ending their road trip 8-3. Atlanta avenged a three-game sweep by Philadelphia June 16-18 at Turner Field.
“We had timely hitting and the pitching was really good,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”
Aaron Harang (7-6) got the victory despite allowing 11 hits in seven innings. He gave up two runs, struck out four and walked two.
David Buchanan (4-4), making his eighth start in place of injured left-hander Cliff Lee, allowed three runs on five hits and five walks in five innings to snap his three-game winning streak.
The Braves went ahead 2-0 in the second on Upton’s two-run triple off the wall in center.
After the first of Byrd’s two solo homers brought Philadelphia within 2-1 in the bottom of the frame, Laird’s RBI double plated Tommy La Stella to push Atlanta’s advantage back to two runs.
In the bottom of the frame, Byrd homered into the Philadelphia bullpen to make it a one-run game again.
NOTES: Justin De Fratus pitched a scoreless sixth inning to extend his scoreless innings streak to 17. … Braves catcher Evan Gattis didn’t play for the third straight game after having back spasms striking out swinging in the first inning on Friday. He will be reevaluated when the club returns to Atlanta on Monday. … It was Byrd’s seventh career multihomer game. … The Phillies have Monday off before beginning a three-game series at Miami on Tuesday with RHP A.J. Burnett (5-7, 3.89) opposing Marlins RHP Henderson Alvarez (5-3, 2.32). … The Braves host the Mets for three games beginning Monday when Atlanta LHP Alex Wood (6-6, 3.07) faces New York RHP Zack Wheeler (3-8, 4.45).
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