So, the Braves saw the Phillies sweep last week and raised it one more.
Behind a 3-2 win Sunday, and solid work from Aaron Harang, the Braves completed a four-game sweep in three days’ time to get the last word in a stretch of seven games in 14 days against their old NL East rival.
The Braves hadn’t swept a four-game series in Philadelphia since Sept. 24-27, 1964, when the Phillies were playing at Connie Mack Stadium, and the Braves were heading home to Milwaukee to play the Mets. The Braves headed home to Atlanta to start a series Monday against the Mets Monday, feeling pretty good.
The Braves manufactured three runs in the first four innings to help make a distant memory of two losses in Washington. They completed this three-city, 11-game odyssey at 8-3 and headed home a half-game against of the idle Nationals in first place in the NL East.
Harang used a pair of double plays to walk the tight rope as only a wily veteran can. The Phillies got 11 hits but only two runs off him over seven innings on a pair of Marlon Byrd solo home runs. Craig Kimbrel followed his lead in the ninth, working around a two-runner, two-out jam by getting Chase Utley to fly out for his 24th save.
Harang had used a well-place fastball and a groundout to retire Byrd with runners at the corners after Byrd had homered in his previous two at-bats, to start off a chain reaction of groundball damage control. Harang got John Mayberry Jr. to bounce out to third base to start a double play in the sixth. Then for his grand finale in the seventh, after Chase Utley recorded his 1,500th career hit to put runners at the corners, Harang got Ryan Howard to ground out against the shift. He got a little help from the mound, taking some steam off the ball.
That Howard double play made the Phillies 3-for-31 with runners in scoring position in this four-game series.
The Braves got a little more timely-hitting of their own Sunday, starting with a two-RBI triple from B.J. Upton. The Braves scored three runs in five innings to ruin a feel-good story for David Buchanan, an Atlanta native who pitched for Fayette County High and Georgia State and was making his first start against his hometown team.
The Braves, meanwhile, got the kind of pitching that let manager Fredi Gonzalez bear four games in 48 hours without ulcers.
Tommy La Stella got his fourth extra-base hit in three games after breaking out of an 0-for-23 slump in Game 1 on Saturday, seeing up a Gerald Laird RBI double. B.J. Upton extended his hitting streak to six-games since Gonzalez moved him into the leadoff spot.
He tripled over Ben Revere’s head in center field to make Buchanan pay for giving up a two-out single to Harang. The single up the middle was Harang’s second as a Brave.
Justin Upton continued to play a great left field on the trip, this time robbing Chase Utley with a leaping catch at the wall to strand a runner in the third inning.