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Phillies now 1 game out in wild-card race

Atlanta's Julio Franco tries but can't quite get to the ball on a triple by Philadelphia's Kenny Lofton.
Atlanta's Julio Franco tries but can't quite get to the ball on a triple by Philadelphia's Kenny Lofton.
Rusty Kennedy, Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies' young players again outdid Atlanta's heralded rookies.

Mike Lieberthal drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the sixth inning, leading the Phillies to a 5-4 victory over the Braves on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

The Phillies remained one game behind Florida in the NL wild-card race. They have won two straight over East-leading Atlanta and four of five overall since being swept by the Astros last week.

"We're relaxed, we're not panicking and we're not getting overly aggressive when we're down," said Billy Wagner, who earned his 34th save in 37 chances with a scoreless ninth.

One night after Eude Brito pitched six scoreless innings in his third career start, the Phillies again got contributions from their youngsters. Rookie Ryan Howard homered and doubled, and Chase Utley drove in two runs.

Gavin Floyd couldn't match Brito's performance, but kept Philadelphia in the game, allowing four runs in five innings in his eighth big-league start.

"Surprised? Not really," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "As long as they stay focused on what they're doing, they can do some good things for us."

Kenny Lofton went 3-for-3 with a triple and scored twice for Philadelphia.

Andruw Jones had a three-run double for the Braves, increasing his NL-leading RBI total to 124.

Atlanta has relied heavily on its rookies this season while pursuing an unprecedented 14th consecutive division title. The Braves have used 17 rookies, including 11 who made their major league debut this season.

"You have to go out there and take care of business," Howard said.

Philadelphia's overused bullpen held Atlanta scoreless over the last four innings. Aaron Fultz (4-0) tossed a perfect sixth, Ryan Madson pitched the seventh and Ugueth Urbina worked the eighth, before giving way to Wagner.

After the Braves scored four runs off Floyd to take a 4-2 lead in the fifth, the Phillies scored three unanswered runs.

With one out in the sixth, Howard doubled to right-center off Blaine Boyer (2-2). After David Bell flied out, Lieberthal lined a single to right field. The heavy-footed Howard came charging around third, testing Jeff Francoeur's strong arm. Francoeur, the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year who came in tied for the NL lead with 11 outfield assists, threw way up the line, allowing Howard to score.

MARLINS 4, ASTROS 2: At Houston, Juan Pierre walked in the seventh inning when umpires said Wandy Rodriguez touched his mouth with his hand while on the mound, and Paul Lo Duca followed with a tiebreaking, two-run homer for Florida. Josh Beckett (14-8) struck out eight over 7 1/3 innings, and Carlos Delgado homered for the second straight game, reaching 30 for the ninth straight season. Florida leads Philadelphia by one game in the NL wild-card standings.

NATIONALS 4, METS 2: At New York, Hector Carrasco filled a hole in Washington's rotation with a solid spot start, and the Nationals used a three-run third inning to beat New York. Brad Wilkerson, Marlon Byrd and Preston Wilson each had an RBI single to help Washington win the opener of a three-game series between teams barely on the fringe of the NL wild-card race.

CARDINALS 5, PIRATES 4: At St. Louis, Chris Carpenter blew a four-run lead in his worst outing since his 13-game winning streak began in mid-June, but St. Louis rallied on David Eckstein's ninth-inning RBI single. Jim Edmonds and Yadier Molina homered for the Cardinals, who are 12-3 this season against the Pirates and reduced their magic number for clinching the NL Central to two.

CUBS 4, REDS 3 (10): At Chicago, Todd Walker's long single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Chicago the victory. Derrek Lee hit his 42nd homer for the Cubs, who have won nine of 12.

BREWERS 3, DIAMONDBACKS 1: At Phoenix, Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins hit back-to-back solo homers, helping Chris Capuano become the Milwaukee Brewers' first 17-game winner in 13 years. J.J. Hardy also drove in a run for the Brewers (72-72), who have won six of eight to reach .500 for the first time since Aug. 7.

GIANTS 5, PADRES 4: At San Francisco, Barry Bonds singled and walked twice in his second game of the season and Mike Matheny hit a pair of RBI doubles, leading the Giants over the slumping Padres.

The first-place Padres (71-73) lost their fourth straight hours after manager Bruce Bochy called a team meeting before the game to clear up a few issues regarding the team's inconsistent play.

ROCKIES 6, DODGERS 4: At Los Angeles, Clint Barmes triggered a six-run second inning with a two-run single with the bases loaded and the Rockies held on for a victory over the Dodgers.

Sun-Woo Kim (5-2) won his third straight decision over four starts, allowing four runs and five hits in five innings after being staked to the 6-0 lead.