Braves' magic number at six after beating Phillies
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The
could not take advantage of any of the opportunities
Sosa struggled with his control but combined with three relievers on a three-hitter as the
moved closer to a 14th consecutive division title with a 4-1 victory over the Phillies.
Inserted into the rotation because of various injuries to the Braves' starters, Sosa (13-3) has become one of Atlanta's most reliable starters and has won six of his last seven outings.
"That's 13 (wins) for him," Braves manager
said. "He's just been outstanding as a starter. He's done everything we asked for him. He's been quite the success here."
Despite yielding just a single and a double in 6 2/3 innings, Sosa was forced to work his way out of numerous jams due to his control problems. The Dominican righthander walked six and threw 68 of 115 pitches for strikes.
"He just makes pitches when he has to," Braves catcher
said. "He has that slider that looks invisible to hitters. You can call him 'Houdini.'"
drew a one-out walk in the fifth and
followed with a single, Sosa struck out
to escape unscathed.
In the sixth, Philadelphia loaded the bases with one out before Sosa struck out
looking and induced a grounder from Howard to preserve a 2-0 edge.
"He wiggled out of some jams tonight," Cox said. "He has a knack for doing that."
"I just focus on location and put the ball where I have to," Sosa said through interpreter and fellow Atlanta starter
. "(I'm) learning a lot from the veterans."
A pair of walks in the seventh ended the night for Sosa, who struck out seven, but
struck out pinch hitter
to end the threat.
Philadelphia's final chance came in the ninth. After
' RBI single cut the deficit to 4-1 and put runners on the corners with two outs,
struck out Michaels to reduce Atlanta's magic number to clinch the National League East Division to six.
"Just for the sake of knocking two games off the magic number, (we can) take a deep breath," said Braves second baseman
, who had his sights set on a World Series Championship. "(Taking a deep breath) is the last thing we need to do; don't ever take a deep breath. Take a deep breath after Halloween."
Lidle (11-11) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings in his first career loss to the Braves.
After allowing just an RBI groundout to
in the first, Lidle - who threw just 59 pitches - gave up a double and a walk in the sixth before
issued a pair of walks to force in
, giving Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
"He didn't want to come out," Phillies manager
said. "I told him he pitched good. He didn't say anything to me."
Lidle also did not speak to reporters after the game.
Furcal and rookie
added run-scoring base hits in the seventh for the Braves.
Rollins extended his career-high hitting streak to 25 games for Philadelphia, which fell two games behind Houston in the NL wild card race.
"It is what it is," Lieberthal said of the Phillies' playoff hopes. "Anybody can beat anybody. We're playing again tomorrow. If we don't win tomorrow, we'll win the next day. Obviously, there's more pressure each day."