There's perhaps no more satisfying way to shut up a particularly obnoxious opponent than to bludgeon them into silence. After listening to the Braves whining last month about ballpark size in both Atlanta and Philadelphia as the Phils won two of three in each locale, the visitors returned to Turner Field Friday night and took it by storm--with Ryan Howard again in the role of William T. Sherman. The Big Piece homered twice off Atlanta's Tim Hudson--giving him seven against the Braves in 2009--to account for the Phillies' first three runs, then watched Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco reach the seats in the ninth to put away what had been a close game.
On the pitching side, J.A. Happ came back from his oblique strain to get the start but lasted only three innings, surrendering one run on a Martin Prado solo homer, before leaving for "precautionary reasons." (Perhaps more worrisome was the midgame departure of catcher Carlos Ruiz with a reported wrist sprain.) Happ gave way to Kyle Kendrick, who--shades of 2007--threw four scoreless innings without recording a strikeout and allowing some long, loud outs. By the time Tyler Walker came on for the eighth, the Phils were up 5-1, thanks to a Jayson Werth two-run single in the top of the inning; the Braves got the two runs back on Brian McCann's 20th homer of the season, I think all of them against the Phillies.
With several of the Braves' bullpen regulars unavailable, Bobby Cox turned to Vladimir Nunez to work the ninth, and the Phils capitalized. Paul Bako, in for Ruiz, and Matt Stairs both walked, and Rollins followed with a homer to right. Francisco's solo shot made it 9-3, as Brad Lidge sat back down in the bullpen and the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief. Chad Durbin wrapped up, allowing a run, as the Phils won their sixth straight and cut their magic number to 9 8.