A nice debut for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, great work from the bullpen again, and Willie Harris has already produced more offense than Ryan Langerhans had all season. It all adds up to a squeaker 4-3 win that seemed strangely comfortable nonetheless.
The Braves took the lead in the first, Andruw driving in Renteria on a groundout fielder’s choice that would have been a DP had Andruw not hustled to first. They stretched it to 3-0 when Chipper doubled home KJ and Renteria with nobody out in the third, but he was stranded at second.
Chuck James was pitching behind the batters but avoiding major damage and not walking them. It all came crashing down in the sixth, with a single by Rowand, a double by the Dark Lord, and a homer by Howard, and suddenly the game was tied up. Paronto came in and walked the first man, but erased him on a double play.
This began a string of ten in a row retired by the bullpen. The Braves loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning, getting one run on a single by Harris, but Saltalamacchia was thrown out at home trying to score on a flyout.
Kali blew away the Phillies in the seventh on ten pitches, notching a strikeout. Gonzalez needed 13 pitches in the eighth, striking out the Dark Lord and Howard. Soriano closed, and allowed a two-out single but a popup to finish it. Harris made a nice catch in left on Wes Smelms’ one-out line drive.
Saltalamacchia was 0-2, but his first PA was a long drive to dead center that reached the warning track. He walked once and was hit by a pitch, and threw out the only baserunner who tried to steal on him… James threw 102 pitches, and he had to work hard. He needs to be a little more efficient. Luckily, tomorrow is an off day before the Braves In Exile (Furcal, Betemit, Seanez, and Schmidt) come to town.