Phillies claim fifth straight in Braves sweep, reach .500

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Hip-hop music blared in the clubhouse, and
players walked around smiling and joking for change.

The Philadelphia Phillies know what a winning streak feels like,
and now they're starting over 28 games into the season.

Ryan Howard drove in three runs with a solo homer and two
sacrifice flies, helping the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 6-3
on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

Cory Lidle pitched six efficient innings, Jimmy Rollins homered
and the Phillies evened their record (14-14) for the first time
this season.

"Right now we're at 0-0. Tomorrow is like the first game all
over again," Howard said.

Andruw Jones had two RBI for Atlanta, which has lost seven of
its last 10 games. Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria singled in the
first inning to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, counting a
hit in the final game last season.

"We're just not doing the little things," Braves outfielder
Jeff Francoeur said.

Lidle (3-3) allowed three runs -- two earned -- and five hits.
Aaron Fultz pitched a scoreless seventh. Geoff Geary and Rheal
Cormier worked the eighth, and Arthur Rhodes finished for his first
save in his first opportunity. Rhodes filled in for closer Tom
Gordon, who is a perfect 9-for-9 in save chances but had pitched in
the last four games.

"We need to stay focused and keep playing the way we're
playing," Lidle said. "We're a great team. We're pretty

For the first month, the Phillies were underachievers. They
started 1-6 and having been catching up ever since.

"We finally got to .500," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We
plan on staying there."

John Thomson (0-2) gave up five runs -- four earned -- and eight
hits in six innings to remain winless in five starts. Thomson came
in leading the majors with a 1.32 ERA, but had the lowest
run-support in the NL at 1.98 runs per game.

"For this ballpark, it was a fair outing," Braves manager
Bobby Cox said.

Howard gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead with a sacrifice fly in the
third inning, and hit an opposite-field homer in the sixth to make
it 5-3. Shane Victorino added an RBI single in the eighth to cap
the scoring.

The Braves went ahead 3-2 in the third on a sacrifice fly by
Andruw Jones. Renteria reached second base when catcher Mike
Lieberthal dropped his pop-up for an error, advanced to third on
Chipper Jones' single and scored on Andruw Jones' fly to left.

Pat Burrell's one-out RBI single in the bottom of the inning
drove in Rollins to tie it at 3. Howard's sacrifice fly to center
field scored Bobby Abreu to put the Phillies ahead. Rollins and
Chase Utley started the inning with consecutive singles. Abreu
reached on a fielder's choice.

After the Braves scored twice in the first inning, Rollins lined
an 0-2 pitch into the right-field seats to start the bottom half.
Rollins passed Juan Samuel to set the franchise record for career
leadoff homers with 15.

With one out and runners at first and third, Howard hit a
sacrifice fly to center field to tie it at 2. Burrell, thinking
there were two outs, was easily doubled off first base, but the run
counted because it came before the third out was recorded.

The Braves took a 2-0 lead on an RBI groundout by Andruw Jones
and Adam LaRoche's RBI double.

Game notes
Renteria has a hit in each of the 19 games he's played this
year, sandwiched around nine games he missed with an injured rib
cage. ... Lieberthal left the game with a bruised left knee after
he was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning. ... Utley was called out
trying to steal second base by umpire Troy Fullwood in the first
inning, though replays clearly showed he was safe. It didn't matter
because Abreu walked on the pitch. ... Rhodes' last save was June
8, 2004 for Oakland against Cincinnati.