Braves fall into tie for wild card


ATLANTA --- The Braves are running out of chances to send Bobby Cox into retirement with one more playoff appearance.


Vance Worley combined with four relievers on a three-hitter and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the punchless Braves 7-0 on Saturday to drop Atlanta into a tie for the NL wild-card spot.

Atlanta's loss and San Diego's 4-2 win over San Francisco left the Braves and Padres tied for the wild card with one game left in the regular season.

"We've got to suck it up and win a game," Cox said. "We have to, tomorrow. We need to win and we've got the right guy going and we need to bust open with the bats a little bit.

"We're still breathing, San Diego is still breathing, the Giants are breathing hard. They've done what we've done, they've lost two in a row to the wrong teams. We need to win."

The Braves' hopes of advancing to the postseason in Cox's final season as manager will be on the line against the Phillies today. Atlanta ace Tim Hudson is scheduled to face Cole Hamels. But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told The Associated Press on Saturday that Hamels will "probably" pitch only two innings as he prepares his rotation for the playoffs. Manuel said Roy Oswalt "will pitch somewhere in the game."

"We're down to the last game; it's good to say it means something," Braves right fielder Jason Heyward said. "We've been through a lot this season."

Third baseman Brooks Conrad's throwing error helped the Phillies snap a scoreless tie with four runs in the seventh. It was the second day in a row a throwing error by Conrad helped the Phillies take the lead.

After Jonny Venters (4-4) walked Jimmy Rollins to open the seventh, Placido Polanco hit a slow grounder. Conrad charged the ball before throwing wildly to second base. The toss sailed into center field, allowing pinch runner Brian Bocock to advance to third.

Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino had run-scoring singles off Venters. Craig Kimbrell's wild pitch allowed Ibanez to score from third for a 4-0 lead.

"I feel terrible again," Conrad said. "Just another terrible throw. I can't explain it."

NL playoff scenarios

Three teams, two NL playoff spots open, one day left in the regular season. A look at the NL West and wild-card scenarios as San Francisco (91-70), San Diego (90-71) and Atlanta (90-71) head into today's games:

- If the Giants beat the Padres, San Francisco is the NL West champion. If the Giants win and Atlanta beats Philadelphia, the Braves win the wild card.

- If the Giants win and the Braves lose, San Diego and Atlanta tie for the wild card. There would be a one-game tiebreaker Monday in Atlanta.

- If the Padres win and the Braves lose, San Diego wins the NL West and San Francisco gets the wild card. The Braves would be eliminated. The Padres get the division title because they won the season series against the Giants.

- If the Padres win and the Braves win, San Diego, San Francisco and Atlanta would all finish 91-71. The Giants and Padres would play a one-game tiebreaker for the NL West title Monday night in San Diego. The loser would then go to Atlanta for a one-game playoff for the wild card Tuesday night (the Braves would play host to either the Padres or Giants because Atlanta won the season series against both).



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