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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Braves Fight, But Phillies Have More Fight In Series Win


Although the Braves gave their much-maligned fifth starter some needed support, Kenshin Kawkami couldn't hold down the power of the Phillies lineup as he was hit for three solo home runs in Atlanta's 5-3 loss.

The Phillies teed off of Kawakami almost immediately. After Omar Infante just missed a leaping catch off of the bat of Placido Polanco, giving him a single, Chase Utley doubled into the right field corner. Bobby Cox chose to intentionally walk Ryan Howard to set up a double play, but Jayson Werth was hit by the second pitch of the at-bat, forcing in a run. Raul Ibanez then followed with a soft liner to right that Melky Cabrera caught. However, he took the ball out of his glove and didn't attempt a throw, allowing Utley to score.

The Phillies added solo home runs in the third and fourth innings, the first a line drive shot over the left field wall by Polanco. The second shot was by Jayson Werth, the 100th of his career. After Raul Ibanez lined a double to the right field wall, Kawakami got the next two batters out to stem the tide.

The Braves finally broke through in the fifth inning off of Phillies starter Cole Hamels. After stranding runners on first and second in the third and fourth innings, Atlanta drove in three for their rare successes on the road. Kawakami led off the inning with a walk and Infante and Martin Prado singled to load the bases. Cabrera, who was just 5-28 with runners in scoring position on the year, hit a hard grounded to second that Utley couldn't control, allowing one run to score. Troy Glaus followed with another single, driving in two runs and close the lead to one run. Brian McCann struck out and Matt Diaz grounded to first, moving the runners up. Brooks Conrad, making his first start of the year, walked to load the bases, but Nate McLouth grounded out to end the inning.

Kawakami stayed in the game and pitched into the seventh inning, giving most of the bullpen a needed rest. Unfortunately, he coughed up a solo home run to Shane Victorino and was relieved after striking out Polanco. Eric O'Flaherty came into the game, got Utley to fly out to right and stayed in the game in the ninth inning, striking out Howard, getting Werth to ground out and Ibanez to pop out behind home plate.

The Braves had been retired 10 straight times after Conrad walked in the fifth inning mostly by relievers Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras. In the top of the ninth, Brad Lidge came on to record his first save of the season. Pinch-hitter Eric Hinske tattooed a dead-red fastball to center field that Victorino was able to grab at the warning track thanks to the win. Omar Infante, who had three hits in the game, followed with a huge drive to left that was also knocked down by the wind, allowing Ibanez to catch. it. Prado ended the game with a comebacker to the pitcher.

It was mentioned during the broadcast that Kawakami is the first Braves pitcher to start 0-6 on the season since Pascual Perez in 1985. Unfortunately, Perez accumulated that record in 11 starts, while Kawakami has extended his franchise record of six losses in his first six starts.

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