Series: Game 4 of 4

Series tied 2-2 (as of 5/30)

Game 1: Thursday, May 27
Game 2: Friday, May 28
in 10
Game 3: Saturday, May 29
Game 4: Sunday, May 30

Braves 1

(24-25, 13-15 away)

Phillies 4

(27-21, 14-10 home)

    1:35 PM ET, May 30, 2004

    Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

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    W: E. Milton (6-1)

    L: T. Smith (0-1)

    S: T. Worrell (7)

    Thome homers in win

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Eric Milton looked liked his old self Sunday.

    Milton pitched seven strong innings in his longest outing of the season and Jim Thome hit his 12th home run of the season to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

    Milton, who was limited to three starts last season because of knee surgery, gave up one run on three hits. He struck out a season-high eight batters and walked three.

    Milton, who lasted six innings in five of his previous nine starts, has won four of his last five decisions and he lowered his ERA from 4.47 to 4.08.

    "I had a whole year off and I'm trying to get back to where I was," Milton said. "I feel I'm getting stronger and sharper with each start. I think I have a little bit more to offer though."

    Milton's performance was key according to Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa, who has stressed that his starters must begin to pitch deeper into games.

    "He did exactly what we need him to do," Bowa said. "It was important for him to get seven innings. We have a lot of guys that have pitched in a lot of games out in the bullpen."

    Coming off his first loss with Philadelphia in his last start, Milton (6-1) retired 10 straight to start the game. His only difficulty came in the fourth when he gave up an RBI triple to Andruw Jones that tied the game 1-1.

    In the seventh inning, Milton walked two but ended the threat by striking out pinch-hitter Chipper Jones.

    Rheal Cormier got two outs in the eighth and Tim Worrell recorded the final four outs for his seventh save in nine opportunities.

    Thome's two-run homer off Armando Almanza in the eighth was the 393rd of his career and his first since May 18.

    "This place has played like a home run park and you have to take it," Thome said of the recently opened Citizens Bank Park.

    The Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when Chase Utley got hit by a pitch by Atlanta starter Travis Smith (0-1) with the bases loaded.

    Smith, who was called up late Saturday from Triple-A Richmond when Horacio Ramirez was placed on the 15-day disabled list, gave up three hits in six innings. The 31-year-old right-hander, who hadn't pitched in the majors since going 4-2 for St. Louis in 2002, walked two and struck out five.

    "My goal was to establish my fastball and throw it for strikes. I thought I did that," said Smith, who pitched in Korea for the SK Wyverns organization in 2003.

    Atlanta manager Bobby Cox seemed impressed with Smith's debut with the Braves.

    "He pitched outstanding and he'll start again," Cox said.

    His return to the big leagues got off to a shaky start. The second batter he faced, David Bell, hit a solo shot for his sixth homer of the season.

    "I hung a curveball and he did what he should do," Smith said. "I knew it as soon as I threw it."

    After that he settled down, escaping a first-and-third, no-out jam in the second inning by striking out Mike Lieberthal and Tomas Perez and getting Milton to ground out.

    Smith retired the next 13 batters in a row until Bell's single in the sixth.

    Game notes

    Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was a late scratch from the starting lineup with a right ankle injury. Bowa found out 10 minutes before game time that Rollins couldn't go. Tomas Perez started in his place. ... Thome's homer was the Phillies' 37th in the month of May, breaking a franchise record set in 1999. ... Chipper Jones didn't start for the second straight day after bruising his left quadriceps when he got hit by a pitch on Friday. ... RHP Antonio Alfonseca narrowly escaped injury in the seventh when Perez hit a hard line drive back to the mound. Alfonseca just got his glove up in front of his head to deflect the ball. He quickly recovered and threw out Perez.<

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press