Through the first four innings of Saturday's sort-of nationally televised contest, the Braves actually saw their offensive output decline from Friday night's stunning two-hit, no-run futility against 47 year-old Jamie Moyer. Though Atlanta threatened in the first thanks to two Phillies errors and a hit batter, the Braves didn't manage an actual hit off starter Joe Blanton until pitcher Kris Medlen singled to lead off the fifth. He was immediately erased on a double play, and Blanton stretched the Phillies' scoreless streak to 17 innings while protecting the 1-0 lead Shane Victorino's second inning single had provided.
But Atlanta finally broke through in the sixth, scoring more runs in the inning--three--than they'd managed in their previous two and a half games. Chipper Jones led off with an infield single Blanton barely failed to get to, Brian McCann followed with a single, and after a Troy Glaus fly out moved Jones to third, the Braves tied the game on an Eric Hinske double. Melky Cabrera plated McCann with a single, and Omar Infante's sacrifice fly scored Hinske.
Meanwhile, the burden of deep offensive frustration crossed to the first-base dugout in which the Phillies sat. Medlen, making his first start of the season after a dozen relief appearances, surrendered nine hits in 4.1 innings--but all were singles, and double plays from Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard ended threats in the third and fifth innings. After Medlen left, six Atlanta relievers held the Phils hitless over the final 4.2 innings, with Peter Moylan dousing one threat in the sixth by inducing Wilson Valdez--the execrable "Exxon"--to hit into yet another inning-ending twin killing. The Phils' final chance came in the seventh, when Victorino and Greg Dobbs walked with one out but Moylan and Jonny Venters retired Placido Polanco and Howard to strand them. Billy Wagner, making a farewell tour somewhat less celebrated than that of manager Bobby Cox, worked a 1-2-3 ninth to finish things up.
After the baseball bounty of the previous week--two beatdowns of the Mets, a big series win against the Cardinals, pitching excellence from Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay and Moyer--it's tough to get too worked up even with a truly irritating game like today's. It does sting a bit to squander multiple scoring chances and drop one to a Braves team that's scuffling now but doesn't figure to stay that way. Hamels goes against Kenshin Kawakami in Sunday's series finale.