Smoltz, Jones power Braves past Phillies
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- While
continue to roll, the
continue to slide.
Smoltz tossed six strong innings for his fifth straight win and Jones increased his major league-leading home run total with a three-run blast as the
handed the Phillies their seventh loss in eight games with a 9-1 triumph.
Unbeaten since June 6, Smoltz (9-5) entered with two losses in as many starts against Philadelphia this season. But the Phillies could not solve the righthander in this one as Smoltz allowed just a run, five hits and one walk while striking out seven.
"Everyone knows this team has given me fits," said Smoltz, who improved to 13-12 lifetime against Philadelphia. "I probably did not pitch my best, but I made some pitches when I had to."
"His slider is so hard to lay off of," Philadelphia's
said. "It looks like a fastball and starts at the knees and drops off. He's got the best slider in the game."
A strikeout of
in the sixth inning gave Smoltz - who had not recorded a win over the Phillies since April 7, 1999 - a career total of 2,494, moving him past
for second place on the franchise list.
owns the Braves' all-time mark with 2,912 strikeouts.
"I did not know it was for
, I thought it was because I got Utley out," said Smoltz, who was given the ball used to strike out Utley. "I have not been able to get him out. So when they gave me the ball, I kept it anyway, and then someone told me. So the ball has a double special meaning."
Jones, who belted a franchise-record 13 homers in June, continued his power surge with his 26th of the season in the sixth inning, a three-run shot that gave the Braves a comfortable 7-1 lead. The reigning National League Co-Player of the Week, Jones has homered in nine of his last 14 games.
"I have worked hard on my hitting this offseason," said Jones, who also doubled. "I was just working on a new stance. I am seeing the ball good, and working hard is paying off."
"Andruw just continues to have good at-bats," Atlanta manager
said. "He is having a lot better at-bats than he ever has since he has been with us."
added a three-run blast and
swatted a two-run shot for the Braves, who won for the sixth time in eight contests despite arriving in Philadelphia early Friday morning following Thursday's loss in Florida that was delayed nearly three hours by rain.
"I am not going to lie, I was tired," Smoltz said. "To pitch in this park under the conditions, the only thing that made it easier was two great two-out, three run homers by
"Last night was rough. We did not get in until real late," Johnson added. "With John on the hill, we really wanted to come out and put some pressure on them early and let him get after it. He has been huge for us, he has been a horse. So every time he is pitching, we are trying to get ahead early."
Johnson's homer, which gave the Braves a 4-1 bulge, came after Phillies third baseman
made a mental error on a grounder by
with one on and two outs. Bell fielded Orr's slow chopper and, instead of immediately going to first for the out, looked toward second before changing his mind and unleashing an off-balance throw that was off the mark.
(3-8) continued to struggle, allowing four runs and nine hits in just four innings. The Nicaraguan righthander has lasted six innings just once in 12 starts this season and has dropped four of his last six decisions.
"His velocity was down," Lieberthal said. "He was wild. His ball was really running. Because of that, his off-speed (pitch) was really flat."
went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Philadelphia, which has won just four of 16 games since completing a 12-1 homestand.
"I think everybody here has been through slumps before," Lieberthal said. "Everybody works hard here, so it's frustrating."
LaRoche gave the Braves an early lead with an RBI single in the first, but Perez drew the Phillies even with a two-out, run-scoring base hit an inning later.
With the loss, the Phillies - who were just one game behind first-place Washington on June 5 - fell into the basement of the National League East Division, 8 1/2 games back.
"We've got to stay mentally tough," Philadelphia manager
said. "You start making mistakes, you start paying for every one of them. That's basically how we're playing right now."