It was as easy as 1-2-3, literally; at least for the Braves. Despite, the fact they were facing the monstrous figure that is Cliff Lee. The Braves pounded Lee and, in the end, won their eventful Friday night home opener, 6-3.
The Phillies had their way with Tim Hudson, even until the 5th inning. Though, Lee, who only didn’t even finish the 5thinning, put his club in a 6-3 hole even after the Phillies took a 3-0 lead in the first two innings.
Still, in the 5th, the Phillies had a golden opportunity to retake the lead and the momentum. With the bases loaded, Ryan Howard stood tall at the plate with only one out. Though, his subsequent at bat was midget-like, unlike his gigantic play so far this year.
Howard grounded into a 1-2-3 double play as Hudson tossed to Brian Mcann, who threw to Freddie Freeman at 1st. That would be the Phils’ last true chance in the ball game as Hudson settled in and eventually lasted into the 8th.
The Phillies took the early lead by following their 2011 formula – contact – hits – move the runners. They scored 2 runs in the first with a pop-up RBI from Howard and a RBI single from Ben Fransico, who’s making Jayson Werth look like chop liver.
The Phils tacked on one more in the 2nd. Carlos Ruiz scored on a groundout by Shane Victorino,who was safe on a fielder’s choice.
That’s when the trouble began. Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the 6th with a triple. Alex Gonzalez knocked in Heyward with an RBI double. Freddie Freeman singled and Martin Prado crushed a ground double to Center field. The Braves had cut the lead to 3-2. The Braves tied it with a RBI ground out from Nate McClouth.
It was a special night at Turner Field. True, it was the home opener but it also would become a celebration of Chipper Jones.
In the fourth, with the bases loaded, Jones nailed a Lee pitch to center field. Victorino dropped a tough ball that could and maybe even should have been caught, and the Braves took the three run lead for good. That was the bye bye signal for Cliff Lee.
Jones, also notched his 2500th hit later; which received a roaring ovation from the normally passive Atlanta crowd. 10% percent of those hits have come against the Phillies alone.
The good news for the Phillies, was once again their bullpen. Kendrick, Bastardo, and Romero pitched a combined scoreless 4+ innings.
The bad news is that three of the ace-loaded starting rotation has now been rocked in three out four games, including two against division opponents.
Though, on the bright side, they will throw another ace out tomorrow, to right the ship.
In the end, that’s the beauty of having four aces.