Originally created 05/08/00

Braves drop game, series to Phillies



ATLANTA -- With the Atlanta Braves' mounting injuries, no streak is safe.

The Braves had yet another streak fall by the wayside Sunday afternoon, as the Philadelphia Phillies won for the second straight day and handed the Braves their first home series loss since Sept. 3-5 of last year, a string of nine straight series.

Philadelphia catcher Mike Lieberthal matched his career high with four hits, including a two-run homer, and Andy Ashby pitched seven strong innings as the Phillies bagged their second straight win, 7-4 before 40,613 at Turner Field.

The Braves have lost three of their past four games after winning 15 straight.

Over the final two games of the series, Atlanta was 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position and left 21 runners on base.

"We were probably due for a little drought like that," said outfielder Trenidad Hubbard. "But also we were facing two pretty good pitchers who are pretty cerebral and don't give you too many pitches to hit. You might get one or two pitches to hit in an at-bat, and you've got to capitalize. We haven't been able to do that."

The Phillies tagged Braves starter Terry Mulholland (3-3) for eight hits and five runs, and he left the game with one out in the top of the fourth after experiencing difficulty breathing. He was taken to Piedmont Hospital for a precautionary evaluation.

"It was kind of scary situation there," said Braves manager Bobby Cox. "He got something in his throat and tried to cough it up, and maybe strained something in his back or chest."

Ashby (2-3) picked up the win, tossing seven innings and striking out eight. The Braves stranded 11 runners, including three in the ninth inning, when they loaded the bases on an error, a single by Keith Lockhart and a walk to Andruw Jones.

That brought Chipper Jones to the plate with a potential tying run, but his deep fly to right was caught on the warning track by Phillies left fielder Kevin Sefcik. It scored Steve Sisco from third, but the out allowed Phillies reliever Wayne Gomes to wiggle off the hook for his fifth save.

"I got a good pitch to hit," said Chipper Jones. "I was thinking fastball middle away, and I wanted to try to drive it out that way. He hung me a slider and I just didn't get enough of it."

Ashby played a key role at the plate as well. A career .127 hitter, his two-run single in the third broke the game open, plating Lieberthal and Kevin Jordan to make it 5-0.

The Braves got on the scoreboard with Andruw Jones' lead-off home run in the bottom of the fourth, and they cut the lead to 5-2 in the sixth when Bobby Bonilla scored from third on Ashby's two-strike wild pitch to Rafael Furcal.

But Lieberthal put the game out of reach with a two-run homer off Bruce Chen in the seventh inning.

The Phillies' bullpen, which had allowed 14 runs in 10 13 innings of work against Atlanta in five games before Sunday, held fast. After Chipper Jones' sacrifice fly, Gomes got a checked-swing strikeout of Bobby Bonilla and a fielder's choice groundout from Javy Lopez to end the game.