Santana blows 4-run lead, Braves lose 5-4 to Phillies

Pitcher Ervin Santana #30 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch in the bottom of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 26, 2014 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Credit: Mitchell Leff

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Pitcher Ervin Santana #30 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch in the bottom of the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 26, 2014 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Credit: Mitchell Leff

Credit: Mitchell Leff

PHILADELPHIA – Five days after Ervin Santana’s frustrations boiled over in a postgame interview in which he spoke of added pressure from pitching with poor run support, the Braves staked him to a 4-0 lead in the first four innings Friday against the Phillies.

And he proceeded to give it all back.

After the Phillies scored a run in the fifth and three runs on a two-out rally in the sixth, they took the lead with a run against reliever Jordan Walden in the seventh inning for a 5-4 win in a series opener between sub-.500 teams that are going home when the regular season ends Sunday.

The loss was the 12th in 14 games for the Braves, who have a majors-worst 5-18 record in one of the worst Septembers in franchise history. There was history made: B.J Upton struck out twice to give him a franchise-record 173 strikeouts, breaking the record of 171 set by Dan Uggla last season.

Justin Upton reached the 100-RBI plateau for the first time in his career with an RBI single in the first inning that gave the Braves a 2-0 lead, and Chris Johnson’s two-run homer in the fourth pushed the margin to 4-0. It was the second time Atlanta scored more than three runs in its past 14 games, both of those outbursts in the past three nights.

Santana, who had lost three consecutive starts and had a 6.55 ERA in his past four outings before Friday, appeared poised to record his team-high 15th win in his final start of the season.

After pitching three perfect innings in the first four, and getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning, Santana gave up a run in the fifth on a fielder’s choice grounder. He had given up consecutive singles by Nos. 7-8 hitters Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis to start the inning.

Santana still had a 4-1 lead when he retired the first two batters in the sixth inning. And that’s when he ran into a wall, allowing four consecutive two-out hits including Asche’s RBI double and Galvis’ slow-rolling infield single, which Santana fielded near the third-base line before making an ill-advised toss from close range to catcher Christian Bethancourt as the base runner was passing between them.

That run reduced the lead to 4-3, and moments later it was tied after Santana bounced a wild pitch to Grady Sizemore that Bethancourt tried to backhand. Santana was replaced after walking Sizemore, and rookie left-hander Chasen Shreve struck out Ben Revere to end the inning. But the damage had been done.

Santana got no decision and gave up eight hits, four runs and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, the fourth time in his past five starts that he’s allowed at least four earned runs in six innings or fewer.

An inning later, the Phillies scored the go-ahead run against Jordan Walden after he walked the leadoff batter, Carlos Ruiz. Ryan Howard doubled to put two runners in scoring position with one out, and Marlon Byrd’s ground out to second base gave the Phillies their fifth unanswered run and a 5-4 lead.

The Braves jumped on Phillies starter Jerome Williams in the first inning, when Phil Gosselin hit a leadoff single and Ramiro Pena doubled to put two runners in scoring position with none out.

Freddie Freeman grounded out to second base to drive in a run, and Upton followed with a single to give him his first 100-RBI season. His career-best before this year was 88 RBIs with Arizona in 2011, when he also had a career-high 31 homers. Upton’s 28 homers this season are the second-most of his career.

Santana struck out the first two batters in the third inning before giving up a single to the pitcher. Revere followed with another single and Carlos Ruiz walked to load the bases for Chase Utley, but Santana got out of the jam by inducing a ground out.

For a write-thru version of this story complete with postgame quotes, go to MyAJC.com or use this link.