ATLANTA (AP) — Manager Ryne Sandberg isn’t sure how much longer the Phillies will keep Kyle Kendrick in their starting rotation.
“We’ll see if we have conversations about personnel,” Sandberg said, “and go from there.”
Kendrick lost for the fourth time in his last six starts and the Phillies’ offense couldn’t solve Braves starter Alex Wood in an 8-2 loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
Tommy La Stella drove in three runs and Chris Johnson hit a two-run homer to back Wood. The Braves have won of five of seven and remained second in the NL East, one percentage point back of Washington.
Wood (7-7) allowed one run and three hits in six innings with eight strikeouts to win for the first time four starts. He retired his last 13 batters.
The first five innings were played in a steady drizzle before heavy rain caused a 1-hour, 39-minute delay in the middle of the sixth.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the second when John Mayberry Jr. homered, but the Braves went up 2-1 in the bottom half on Johnson’s seventh homer.
Kendrick (4-10) got in trouble in the third, walking B.J. Upton, hitting Freddie Freeman with Justin Upton with pitches and forcing in a run with a bases-loaded walk to Jason Heyward that make it 3-1.
After Johnson lined out, the Braves went up 6-1 on La Stella’s three-run double. La Stella’s latest big hit came two days after the second baseman he replaced, Dan Uggla, was released.
Since coming to the big leagues in late May, La Stella is 6 for 7 with the bases loaded, driving in 13 runs in those at-bats. He relishes getting a chance to bat with runners in scoring position.
“You’re going to find yourself in those situations whether you want them or not,” La Stella said. “I think it goes a long way to see yourself in those situations and see yourself succeeding.”
Kendrick gave up six runs, five hits and two walks in five innings, dropping to 1-4 with a 6.99 ERA in his last six starts.
“It’s been a tough year for me,” he said. “I don’t know why. It’s just been a bad year. Guys have bad years. So far, that’s how it’s been. Just keep pitching.”
Wood, who returned to Atlanta’s rotation on June 25 after nearly seven weeks in relief, improved to 4-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 12 starts.
After the rain delay, Phillies reliever Mario Hollands gave up two runs in the sixth on Andrelton Simmons’ bases-loaded walk and Freddie Freeman’s RBI single.
Philadelphia has lost four of five and dropped 11 games back in the NL East. Just 9-42 when scoring three runs or less, the Phillies missed a chance to score with the bases loaded in the eighth when Jimmy Rollins grounded into a double play and Chase Utley popped up.
Marlon Byrd hit his 19th homer in the ninth off David Carpenter, but the extra run hardly helped Sandberg’s mood.
“We basically gave them nine free passes — seven of them walks, two hit batsmen,” Sandberg said. “And on the other side of the page we outhit them 9-8, but we had 13 strikeouts.”
NOTES: When Mayberry misplayed Kendrick’s pickoff attempt of B.J. Upton in the third, it was Philadelphia’s first error in 78 innings. … Phillies LHP Cliff Lee is expected to return from the DL Monday at home against San Francisco after missing nine weeks with a strained left elbow. In six career starts against the Giants, Lee is 5-0 with a 0.88 ERA. … Braves C Evan Gattis, sidelined since June 29 with a bulging disk in his lower back, is expected to end a rehab assignment and return to the lineup for Monday’s home game against Miami. He went 2 for 6 with two RBIs Sunday as designated hitter for Triple-A Gwinnett. … RHP Julio Teheran starts Monday for the Braves and is 4-0 with a 2.50 ERA in six career starts against the Marlins.