ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The
didn't treat this like an ordinary regular-season game.
pitched seven strong innings as the surging Braves moved into first place in the National East with a 4-2 victory over the
Despite winning 12 straight division titles, the Braves pared payroll and were written off by many this season. Philadelphia widely was considered the favorite to overtake Atlanta.
But the Braves have won 16 of their last 20 games, moving past the Phillies and into sole possession of the top spot in the NL East for the first time this season.
"They smell blood every time they take the field," Phillies manager
said. "They don't win by accident. They get hits with two outs, they do the things they need to do to put you over the hump. That's why they won the division 12 years."
Hampton (5-8) helped the Braves continue their winning ways as he allowed two runs and five hits. The lefthander walked one and struck out four in beating Philadelphia for the second straight start.
"It's really big to be able to face them in back-to-back games like this," said Hampton, who improved to 4-1 in his last five starts.
, who picked up his 1,600th win as Atlanta manager, went to
to start the eighth. The closer struck out four over the final two innings for his 18th save in 20 chances - and third two-inning save of the season.
"It feels good to not be tied in first place," Cox said. "The important thing is to be in first place at the end of the season. It was a great game. Smoltzie was up for the task."
"Games like this don't come around too often," Smoltz said. "The crowd was flat-out in it. It was fun. He (Cox) called me in to get two innings today. It was a great game. It was one game, but it was a two-game swing against them."
each had two hits and an RBI for the Braves, who appeared to play the opener of the two-game series with added emotion.
(2-9) gave up four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
After an RBI groundout by
in the first gave the Phillies the lead, the Braves took the lead for good in the second on an RBI double by LaRoche and Jones' run-scoring single.
Chris Thomas delivered an RBI single in the fourth and
plated a run with a double in the next inning, pushing the lead to 4-1.
Atlanta outfielder J.D. Drew singled in the fifth, extending his hitting streak to 16 games.