ATLANTA (AP) -- Jason Michaels planted his face against the
outfield wall, not believing what just happened. Somehow, he had
accidentally swatted the ball into the seats for a bizarre home
At least he could smile about it later.
Despite Michaels' gaffe, the Philadelphia Phillies prevailed 9-4
Thursday night for their third straight win over the Atlanta
Braves, going ahead for good on Jim Thome's two-run double in the
Everyone will remember what happened in the fourth.
With the Braves trailing 4-3, Charles Thomas led off with a deep
drive to center. Michaels did well just getting to the ball,
reaching up for it at the edge of the warning track.
The ball deflected off Michaels' glove and headed toward the
ground. The center fielder swatted at it, still trying to make the
catch. Instead, he knocked it into the first row of seats.
"I was at a loss for words," Michaels said. "I was like,
'You've got to be kidding me.' I almost didn't think it was real."
Immediately, he thought of Jose Canseco, still remembered for
having a fly ball bounce off his head and over the wall.
"I think that's the No. 1 ESPN blooper," Michaels said.
And his own play?
"I've got to be right there," he replied with an embarrassed
Thomas was running full speed as he approached third. He slowed
when he saw coach Fredi Gonzalez pointing toward the plate and
umpire Lance Barksdale circling his index finger to signal home
"I didn't know what was going on," Thomas said. "It's just
one of those quirky plays."
Phillies manager Larry Bowa had never seen anything like it
during all his years in the game.
"It was like jai alai," he said. "He had it on his hand and
flipped it out."
Philadelphia helped its faltering playoff hopes by taking three
of four games at Turner Field. The relievers certainly did their
job, pitching 16 scoreless innings during the series.
"They were lights out," Bowa said.
Atlanta overcame a 4-0 deficit, but Thome took advantage of a
questionable decision by the Braves in the seventh. With a runner
at second and two outs, Atlanta intentionally walked Bobby Abreu to
get to Thome.
"We'd been striking him out on a regular basis the whole
series," Braves manager Bobby Cox said, defending the decision.
Not this time. The Phillies' cleanup hitter drove in both
runners with a double into the right-field corner off Ramon Colon
(1-1) for a 6-4 lead.
"One thing you've got to admire about Thome," Bowa said. "No
matter if he's 0-for-20 or 18-for-20, he wants to be in that spot.
You can't teach that. All good hitters are like that."
Pat Burrell homered in the eighth and doubled in another run in
the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Philadelphia starter Cory Lidle had a 22-inning scoreless streak
until Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer in the third. Lidle went
five innings, giving up eight hits and all four Atlanta runs, but
the bullpen picked him up.
"They've certainly got the arms down there and reputations to
go with it," Jones said.
Lidle had no complaints about Michaels' strange play.
"As a pitcher, I appreciate the effort," Lidle said. "It's
unfortunate it went over."
The game started out like a Phillies romp. After just two
pitches, Russ Ortiz was already behind 2-0.
Jimmy Rollins led off with a homer into the right-field seats,
his 11th of the season. Placido Polanco followed with an even
longer drive into the left-field stands for his 14th homer. When
Abreu took the third pitch of the game for a ball, the crowd at
Turner Field mocked Ortiz with a loud cheer.
That was about the only applause for Ortiz, who gave up a
two-run homer to Mike Lieberthal in the second. The Atlanta starter
was finally lifted in the third when he walked the bases loaded
with one out.
Juan Cruz escaped the jam by getting Burrell to hit into a
double play. In the bottom half, Jones put the Braves right back in
it with his 27th homer.
Cox was ejected after the sixth by Barksdale, who enraged Marcus
Giles with a called third strike to end the inning. Giles was
pulled away, but Cox was tossed after he came on the field to
continue the argument.
Ortiz gave up three homers in a game for the first time
since April 20, 2002, when he pitched for San Francisco. His career
high is four homers. ... For the fourth time in Phillies history,
they led off the game with back-to-back homers. Len Dykstra and
Mickey Morandini last accomplished the feat on April 16, 1996. ...
The NL East-leading Braves have lost three in a row for the first
time since June 20-23, matching their longest skid of the season.