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Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2004 12:32 AM EDT
MLB RECAP
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ATLANTA 5, PHILADELPHIA 3
 

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Braves were supposed to be the ones chasing the Philadelphia Phillies . Instead, they are the ones running away.

Mike Hampton continued his roll with eight strong innings and Andruw Jones hit a two-run homer as the Braves posted a 5-3 victory over the Phillies.

Entering the season, the Phillies were the favorites in the National League East Division despite the Braves having a run of 12 straight division titles. But Atlanta has a healthy 8 1/2-game lead over Florida and is 12 1/2 games in front of disappointing Philadelphia.

"We finally got everybody healthy," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "It looks like Philadelphia has gone through the same thing we've gone through, only they've gone through it longer than us with their injured guys out. It's hard to get on any kind of roll. We couldn't get on it until we had everybody back."

Hampton (11-9) gave up just a fourth-inning single to Placido Polanco and a solo homer to Mike Lieberthal in the fifth. The lefthander walked one and struck out one in winning for the ninth time in his last 10 decisions.

"Why I kind of got off to a slow start? Who knows?" Hampton said. "I felt like I didn't pitch that poorly. Had a couple of bounces gone my way, I could've gotten off to a pretty good start."

Hampton also improved to 3-0 against Philadelphia this season.

"It seems like he's always pitching great against us," Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.

Closer John Smoltz gave up a pair of runs in the ninth.

Jones' homer in the sixth off Eric Milton (13-3) snapped a 1-1 tie. It was his 22nd homer of the season.

After Johnny Estrada singled with one out, Jones lofted a 2-0 pitch to right that appeared to be a routine fly ball, but it kept carrying until a fan reached out and caught the ball.

"I hit it in the air and it just kept drifting out," Jones said. "(Milton) just made a mistake and left a ball over the plate."

Milton allowed three runs - two earned - and seven hits in six innings. He walked five and struck out two. The home run he surrendered was his major-league leading 37th of the season.

"Off the bat, I thought it was an out," Milton said. "A fan reached over, but there's nothing I could do about it. I thought I pitched pretty well ... That's the way the year has gone."

Julio Franco added a two-run single in the seventh off reliever Amaury Telemaco , giving the Braves a 5-1 lead.

Milton lost for the first time in seven decisions at Citizens Bank Park.

Atlanta grabbed a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the third after Marlon Byrd 's error in center field.

Lieberthal's 13th homer and fourth against the Braves this season tied it in the fifth.

The win gave the Braves a 20-8 record in August, marking just their second 20-win August since the franchise moved to Atlanta. They last accomplished the feat in 1999 with a 21-7 mark.

"I think the amazing part is how we've come together as a team," Hampton said. "Not having a lot of guys healthy and using newer guys, younger guys that played such a big role, it made us appreciate how much team baseball means."


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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