Heyward, Simmons pace Braves past Phillies
ATLANTA (AP) — A.J. Burnett was visibly upset with himself as he walked to the dugout after the last out of the fifth inning.
It was easy to see why.
“Six runs in five innings pretty much nails it on the head,” Burnett said. “I was in counts where I should have made pitches and I didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”
Burnett gave up nine straight two-out hits, and the Philadelphia Phillies failed to score after the sixth in a 6-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.
Jason Heyward homered and drove in two runs, and Andrelton Simmons had two RBIs for the Braves, who won their third straight game to take a one-game lead over Washington in the NL East.
Last-place Philadelphia dropped 11 games behind Atlanta after losing its third straight.
“Not the start we wanted for the second half,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “We had some good at-bats, though. I felt good jumping out with the two runs early. They came right back with four runs.”
The game was played in a steady drizzle, but the rain had nearly stopped when Braves closer Craig Kimbrel earned his 30th save in 34 chances. He got Marlon Byrd on a groundout and struck out Grady Sizemore and Cody Asche.
Ervin Santana (8-6) gave up six hits, three walks and four runs – three earned – in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. He struck out one.
Burnett (6-9) allowed six runs, 10 hits – the last nine with two out – and one walk in five innings. He had five strikeouts.
“Everything was up, man, everything was up,” Burnett said. “I was off. Heyward hit a changeup, and the curveball was up. A few innings in the middle, I got it where I wanted to, but I was inconsistent, and you can’t pitch against this club and be inconsistent.”
The Phillies led 2-0 in the second on Asche’s sacrifice fly and Cameron Rupp’s RBI single, but they trailed 4-2 in the bottom half after Heyward hit his ninth homer, B.J. Upton had an RBI single, and Simmons drove in two runs with a double.
Atlanta made it 6-2 in the fifth on RBI singles by Heyward and Tommy La Stella.
Philadelphia cut the lead to 6-4 in the sixth. Jimmy Rollins reached on first baseman Freddie Freeman’s fielding error and moved to third on Chase Utley’s double. Both runners scored on Ryan Howard’s broken-bat, two-run bloop single.
Rollins led off the eighth with a walk against Jordan Walden, the third Atlanta pitcher, but he was thrown out at second base on Utley’s strikeout. Heyward, the right fielder, ended the inning by charging in to make a diving catch of Howard’s liner.
“In that situation, it was only a two-run game,” Heyward said. “If they keep having (at-bats), maybe they put up another run or two. Defense is going to win the game at the end of the day, but it’s good to score runs, and it got us going a little bit.”
NOTES: Burnett is 5-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 22 career starts and one relief appearance against the Braves. … Atlanta requested unconditional release waivers before the game on former All-Star 2B Dan Uggla. The Braves still owe Uggla, who hit .162 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 130 at-bats this year, over $18 million through the end of next season. … Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said C Evan Gattis, on the disabled list with a back injury, is scheduled to get about 12 at-bats over the next three days and play in the field for two games as he continues a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett. If he has no setbacks, Gattis will be activated for Monday’s game against Miami. … Phillies LHP Cliff Lee, after missing nine weeks with a strained left elbow, says he is ready to return to the rotation for his start Monday at home against San Francisco. … The Braves recalled utility man Tyler Pastornicky to take Uggla’s spot on the 25-man roster.
(© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed)