Three outs before the game would have been official with the Phillies leading 4-1 and ace Cliff Lee on the mound, the skies over Turner Field opened and washed baseball away for the better part of two hours. When play resumed, Lee was gone, and the Phillies' shaky bullpen was charged with recording fifteen outs before the host Braves, hanging in the NL playoff hunt by their fingernails, could score three runs.
Mission accomplished. Tyler Walker fired two innings of solid relief, stranding two in the sixth. Sergio Escalona and Clay Condrey combined to get through the seventh. Ryan Madson struck out the side in the eighth with some of his filthiest pitches of the year. And finally, Brad Lidge--not without the usual drama, as one run scored and the tying run came to the plate--finished it up, striking out Nate McClouth to end it. In fact, the five relievers recorded nine of their fifteen outs via the K.
Absent the rain, Lee might not have needed much help. After allowing a first-inning run, he held Atlanta off the board without difficulty, needing just 52 pitches to get through four innings. Meanwhile, the Phillies came back against Braves rookie Tommy Hanson, evening the score at 1 on a third-inning RBI double from Ben Francisco--in for Shane Victorino, who'd been ejected for arguing after getting thrown out trying to steal second in the first--and going ahead with two fourth-inning runs on RBI hits from Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Chase Utley added an RBI triple in the fifth shortly before play stopped.
The Phils now lead the Marlins, who lost earlier, by 8 games, and the Braves by 8.5. Their magic number to clinch a third straight NL East title is down to 6.