ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Braves are back in first place, thanks to their starting pitchers.
John Thomson combined with two relievers on a six-hit shutout Sunday and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 to finish a three-game sweep.The Braves won with only six hits. Even though they outscored the Phillies 21-3 in the series, including an 11-1 rout Saturday, Sunday's game was a reminder that the Braves usually rely on strong pitching.With Thomson's seven shutout innings, Atlanta starters have a 2.46 ERA, second in the majors to the 2.39 mark by Florida's starters.The Braves have won four straight games to move into a tie for first with Florida despite ranking near the bottom of the NL with a .241 batting average."Look at our batting average and look at our record and it doesn't match up," first baseman Adam LaRoche. "It's because of our pitching."With the win by Thomson (2-2), Braves pitchers have 13 quality starts in 19 games."Everybody knew what we were capable of doing and what we've done in the past," Thomson said. "It's just a matter of actually coming out and doing it."Thomson struck out eight and walked two, ending his two-game skid.Each team lost key players to injuries, though neither is believed to be serious.Braves third baseman Chipper Jones left the game with a bruised left foot after scoring in the third inning. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.Jones said he felt pain in the foot after rounding third base."I just felt like I had a golf ball on the bottom of my shoe," he said.Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell left in the fourth inning with discomfort in his right groin."He's hurting. He'll definitely miss tomorrow," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who said he didn't expect Burrell to be out long enough to be placed on the disabled list.Johnny Estrada drove in two runs for the Braves, who will begin a three-game set in New York against the Mets on Monday night.The Phillies have lost five of six to fall into last place in the NL East."That's as bad as we can be," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "If we play any worse, then this will be a really long season."The gametime temperature was 50 degrees, and strong winds added to the chill. Thomson said five years pitching for Colorado gave him practice dealing with those conditions."I think the biggest problem is the grip on the ball, not so much on the fastball, but more on the breaking ball," Thomson said. "I had to deal with that in Colorado. It's not fun."Chris Reitsma worked a hitless eighth and Dan Kolb finished the six-hitter.Andruw Jones and Raul Mondesi each hit an RBI single.Philadelphia's Vicente Padilla (0-2) struggled in his second straight rocky start since opening the season on the disabled list with right triceps tendinitis.Padilla gave up four runs, four hits and four walks in three innings. In two starts, he has given up 12 hits and 12 runs in six innings."Things have gone bad for him the last two games," Manuel said. "We lost some balls in the sun, and he had command problems. He couldn't seem to get on track."Padilla was fortunate to trail only 1-0 after the first inning. He loaded the bases on three walks -- throwing a wild pitch to the screen -- before giving up a run on Estrada's grounder to first. Mike Lieberthal couldn't handle Jim Thome's throw to the plate, allowing Rafael Furcal to score.With the bases still loaded, Brian Jordan and Andruw Jones each popped out to end the inning.Marcus Giles led off the Braves' three-run third with a bloop double to shallow right that second baseman Chase Utley lost in the sun. After Padilla walked Chipper Jones, Giles advanced to third on LaRoche's fly to center and scored on Estrada's sacrifice fly.Padilla then gave up three straight hits, including RBI singles by Andruw Jones and Mondesi.Manuel was tossed in the fourth, his first ejection with Philadelphia. First base umpire Eric Cooper originally called Burrell safe on a grounder to third, signaling that Wilson
Betemit's throw pulled LaRoche off the bag.TV replays showed that LaRoche reached back and touched the bag with his foot before Burrell got there, and Braves manager Bobby Cox asked Cooper to confer with plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. The umpires huddled and quickly called Burrell out.Manuel then came on the field and argued. He continued to argue after he was tossed by Culbreth.
Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu stole his NL-leading seventh base in the first inning. ... Padilla threw 43 pitches in the first. ... Six of Giles' first 15 hits have been doubles. His third-inning double was the Braves' only extra-base hit. ... Thome was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.