PHILADELPHIA - John Schuerholz doesn't make a habit of traveling on the road with the Atlanta Braves. Yet there he was Tuesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, sitting in Atlanta's dugout along with team president Terry McGuirk.
"It's a special time of year," the general manager said. "The team is playing well, and these have now become meaningful games."
Yes, the Braves, left for dead only a couple weeks ago, are again playing meaningful baseball. And while it would take an improbable confluence of events for them to make the playoffs, they are nonetheless in the postseason picture after a 10-6 victory Tuesday night over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Atlanta overcame a rocky start from Chuck James by outslugging the Phillies before 39,129 towel-waving fans. Mark Teixeira and Chipper Jones homered, and Edgar Renteria added a key two-run single.
The Braves won for the ninth time in 11 games, moving to within 2 of the wild card lead before San Diego played late Tuesday night at San Francisco.
Their remaining five games might not lead to a playoff berth, but they might well be interesting. And for the Braves, that's an accomplishment in itself.
"We've had a good run," manager Bobby Cox said. "They knew they had to do it to stay in it, so they did it."
Yet Cox also cautioned that the Braves (83-74) will probably have to win out - with two more games in Philadelphia and three at Houston - to have any shot at October.
"We can't afford to go two wins here and two wins there," he said. "It's not going to get it done. We have to sweep here and just about do the same thing in Houston."
While Atlanta's rotation for the Houston series hasn't been set, the Braves are in an ideal position for the remainder of the Philadelphia series. Tim Hudson will start today against Kyle Lohse, followed by John Smoltz vs. Adam Eaton on Thursday.
James lasted just 3w innings on Tuesday, giving up four runs on three hits - all three of which were homers. That was somewhat surprising only because James was coming off one of his best outings of the season, having thrown seven scoreless innings against Florida last week. But it was not wholly unpredictable.
No Braves pitcher has given up nearly as many home runs as James this season (32). And entering Tuesday, only one National League team had hit more homers than Philadelphia (202).
Reach Brian Costa at email@example.com.