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Milton stifles Braves, gets plenty of support

ATLANTA (AP) -- Eric Milton wouldn't mind facing the Atlanta
Braves more often.

"I look at the lineup before the game and see who the nine
players are and go from there," Milton said. "Who's in the lineup
doesn't matter. You have to focus on getting guys out -- no matter
who's in the lineup."

Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal homered to back seven impressive
innings by Milton, and the Philadelphia Phillies ended a four-game
losing streak with a 9-1 victory over the error-prone Atlanta
Braves on Friday night.

Milton (7-1) held the Braves scoreless after the first inning,
allowing just one earned run and five hits overall. The
left-hander, who faced a lineup minus Chipper Jones, J.D. Drew and
Johnny Estrada, struck out five and walked two.

"Any time you can pitch with a lead, it's a plus," Milton
said. "Things worked out the last couple of times. I'll stick with
what I've been doing."

Pitching opposite Travis Smith (0-2) for the second time in six
days, Milton retired 10 straight after Eli Marrero walked with two
outs in the first. He also escaped a jam in the fifth with runners
on first and second and one out when Nick Green popped up and Julio
Franco grounded into a fielder's choice.

Atlanta, which leads the majors with 50 errors, was done in by
poor fielding and spotty pitching in the sixth. After Kevin
Gryboski walked the bases loaded, third baseman Jesse Garcia was
charged with a fielding error after letting Pat Burrell's high
grounder sail into left field, allowing two runs to score and make
it 5-1.

After Lieberthal chased Gryboski with an RBI single, Juan Cruz
allowed Jimmy Rollins' three-run double for a 9-1 lead.

Milton has won five of his last six starts, but he's been at his
best against Atlanta. Acquired in a Dec. 3 trade with Minnesota,
Milton beat the Braves 4-1 on Sunday, allowing three hits, one run,
three walks and striking out eight.

Eddie Perez, whose RBI single in the first made it 2-1, doubled
in the sixth, but was stranded when Milton forced Mike Hessman to
popped up to Lieberthal.

Abreu's 12th homer, a two-run shot in the first, gave the
Phillies a 2-0 lead. Lieberthal led off the sixth with his sixth
home run to make it 3-1. Lieberthal's homer and RBI single improved
his career average at Turner Field to .374 (61-for-163) with 11
homers and 51 RBI.

"I do see the ball well here," Lieberthal after raising his
season average seven points to .231. "Last night, I felt good.
Hopefully, I have something."

Smith, filling in for injured starter Horacio Ramirez, allowed
six hits, three earned runs and one walk. He struck out six and
threw 69 of his 109 pitchers for strikes. The last time he faced
the Phillies, Smith gave up a solo homer to David Bell.

"Basically, I've made three mistakes and they've all been home
runs and they cost me," Smith said. "I just need to make sure I
throw every pitch with conviction and make sure I throw the ball
down in the zone. A groundball's a lot better than a two-run home
run."

The 31-year-old right-hander, who entered with a career record
of 4-3 and a 6.53 ERA, made just his 13th start since debuting for
St. Louis in 2002.

"I like the way he throws," said Perez, filling in at catcher
for Estrada. "He just made two mistakes today, the slider on
Lieberthal and the changeup on Abreu, and I talked to him about
that. I think he was worried too much about the runner at second.
That's why he threw that changeup like that, but he threw good
again."

Game notes
Braves manager Bobby Cox gave Drew and Estrada the day off.
Jones, nursing a tight hamstring, hasn't played since Tuesday. ...
After grounding into four double plays Thursday, the Phillies had
just one when Burrell did so in the sixth. ... Milton hadn't
allowed a run or hit this year in the first until Green singled and
scored on Perez's RBI.