Series: Game 1 of 2

Atlanta leads 1-0 (as of 8/31)

Game 1: Tuesday, August 31
Game 2: Wednesday, September 1

Braves 5

(77-54, 38-28 away)

Phillies 3

(65-67, 33-34 home)

    7:05 PM ET, August 31, 2004

    Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

    123456789 R H E
    ATL 001002200 5 10 0
    PHI 000010002 3 6 2

    W: M. Hampton (11-9)

    L: E. Milton (13-3)

    Hampton yields two hits in 8 innings

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Mike Hampton has few explanations for the turnaround that's made him one of baseball's best pitchers over the past few weeks.

    Hampton pitched two-hit ball over eight innings and Andruw Jones hit a two-run homer to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.

    "Confidence is pretty high and, in this game, when you've got confidence anything can happen," Hampton said.

    Eli Marrero went 3-for-4 and Julio Franco had two RBI for the Braves, who went 20-8 this month, marking just their second 20-win August since moving to Atlanta from Milwaukee after the 1965 season. They also did it in 1999, going 21-7.

    The Braves got another strong effort from Hampton (11-9), who retired the first 10 batters before allowing a single in the fourth. Hampton walked one and struck out one while improving to 10-2 in his last 12 starts and 3-0 this season against the Phillies.

    "It seems like he always pitches great against us," manager Larry Bowa said.

    Hampton said he's made few adjustments since his 1-7 start and is the beneficiary of more good breaks.

    "I felt like I didn't pitch that poorly," he said. "I didn't pitch great, but with a couple of bounces or hops going my way that I still could have got off to a pretty good start. Things are just going my way."

    John Smoltz -- used because he hadn't pitched since Friday -- gave up two runs in the ninth on a wild pitch and Jim Thome's RBI single before striking out Mike Lieberthal with runners on first and third.

    The Phillies showed some signs of life in the NL wild-card race after a three-game sweep of Milwaukee last weekend, but an interleague loss at Chicago and another lethargic performance at home made postseason play a real longshot.

    It's been a stunning six-week slide for the Phillies. Atlanta and Philadelphia were tied for first in the NL East after splitting a two-game series July 19-20. The Braves' lead over the Phillies has swelled to a whopping 12½ games since.

    "It looks like Philadelphia's going through the same thing we were going through with all their injured guys out," Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

    Eric Milton (13-3) battled back spasms and gave up seven hits, three runs -- two earned -- and walked five in six innings. Milton was 11-2 on July 4, but the free-agent lefty is 2-1 with eight no-decisions since.

    A win would've made Milton the first Phillies pitcher to start 14-2 in 114 years. Instead, he was done in by little offensive support and the long ball, giving up his NL-worst 37th homer.

    Milton allowed a one-out single to Johnny Estrada in the sixth and Jones followed with his 22nd homer, a two-run shot that was caught by a fan in the front row of the right-field seats for a 3-1 lead.

    "I've had balls that people have caught over the wall before. I'll take that one," Jones said.

    A television replay showed the fan leaned over the wall for the catch, then tossed the ball back onto the field.

    "That's the way the year's gone," Milton said. "Off the bat, I thought it was an out."

    Brian Giles and J.D. Drew both singled and scored on Franco's single to left in the seventh, making it 5-1.

    The Braves could've bust the game open in the seventh, but Phillies left fielder Jason Michaels made a nice hard-charging, diving catch on a low liner to rob Chipper Jones of a two-out hit with the bases loaded.

    The Braves took a 1-0 lead in third when Chipper Jones walked and Franco singled to center. Franco's hit one-hopped to center fielder Marlon Byrd, who stabbed at the ball and missed, allowing the ball to roll to the wall and for Jones to score.

    The Phillies tied it at 1 in the fifth on a solo homer to left by Lieberthal.

    Game notes

    The Phillies recalled slugging 1B Ryan Howard and C A.J. Hinch from Triple-A Scranton. ... The Braves optioned RHP Roman Colon to Double-A Greenville and recalled OF Dewayne Wise from Triple-A Richmond. ... Philadelphia placed LHP Randy Wolf on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left elbow. The Phillies recalled INF Shawn Wooten from Triple-A Scranton. ... Drew extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a seventh-inning single. ... The Braves had double-digit hits for the 11th straight game, the longest streak in the majors since Seattle also did it in 11 straight in 2001.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press