The past week was not anyone in Braves Country had wanted, seeing the Braves drop two of three to the visiting Dodgers over Labor Day Weekend before getting swept at the hands of the host Phillies, leaving their NL East rival as the last remaining team still to not get swept in 2011.
It began last Friday against the Dodgers.
The Braves built a 5-0 lead behind Brandon Beachy, but after Beachy exited after the 6th, Arodys Vizcaino was unable to halt the Dodgers charge, watching them score 5 runs as the young right-handed was only able to record one out while watching a 2-run advantage shift to a 3-run deficit. Beachy allowed three runs and struck out 7 Dodgers, while walking three.
Offensively, the Braves had five players record two-hit games, but only Dan Uggla was able to muster any offense after the 3rd inning, making it a 8-6 game with a solo homer in the bottom of the 9th.
Saturday was more heartbreak, as the two teams each scored a run in the second inning off solo home runs, with Uggla again providing the Braves offense, but the Dodgers scored in the top of the 10th and held on for the 2-1 win.
Mike Minor pitched 6 strong innings, striking out 7 and walking two while allowing the lone run on 6 hits, but Anthony Varvaro was unable to keep the Dodgers scoreless, allowing a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Dodgers their 6th straight victory.
Sunday, the lone win for the Braves in their last 6 games, saw the offense remain patient against Cy Young hopeful Clayton Kershaw after Randall Delgado held the Dodgers offense to three runs.
The offense came to life in the 7th, sparked by Jose Constanza and Brooks Conrad’s broken-bat, game-tying single before Martin Prado’s game-winning single in the bottom of the 9th sent the Braves to Philadelphia with confidence behind them after nearly getting swept against a team no one expected to surge as they had of late.
The opener in Philadelphia did not go in the Braves favor, as Derek Lowe got into trouble early, and the Phillies ran away with a 9-0 victory behind Cliff Lee.
Lee allowed just five hits while throwing a complete game, compare to Lowe, who lasted 5 innings and allowed 7 runs.
The lone highlight of the night was the return of Peter Moylan, who pitched a scoreless 7th, throwing 12 pitches in his return to MLB action after having back surgery earlier in the season.
Tuesday’s game saw more frustrations, as Vance Worley stifled the Braves bats, allowing two runs over 6 innings, while Tim Hudson was unable to curtail the Phillies offense, allowing 4 runs in 6 innings.
The Braves tied the ballgame at 2 in the 6th after Alex Gonzalez’s bases loaded sac-fly, but the offense was unable to build off that. Uggla beat out a double play, making it a 4-3 game, but that was the closest the Braves got, as the Phillies bullpen came in to seal the 6-3 win.
Wednesday’s game was the first game, since last Friday, that the Braves took the lead, but the very dependable bullpen was unable to hold onto the 2-1 lead.
After the Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd, the Braves produced run-scoring singles in the 6th and 7th to take the 2-1 lead before Jonny Venters allowed a run in the 8th and Moylan was unable to stop the bleeding, watching the Phillies walk-off with the win in the 9th for the sweep.
For what was a week with big implications, the Braves must now forget what happened and set their eyes on the weeks to come, as they look to seal the Wild Card for the second year in a row.
The Braves now have a double-header with the Mets Thursday before a weekend set with the St. Louis Cardinals, who began today 6 1/2 games behind the Braves for the NL Wild Card.