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Hudson Leads Braves to 2-1 Win Over Phillies

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Hudson Leads Braves to 2-1 Win Over Phillies

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Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies puts on his jacket after finishing the eighth inning against the Atlanta Braves during a MLB baseball game on September 23, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Braves defeated the Phillies 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Phillies still have some postseason hopes.

But the harsh reality is this for the Phillies - not even their second-half surge will get them into the playoffs for a sixth straight season.

Tim Hudson tossed two-hit ball over 7 1-3 innings to help the Atlanta Braves inch closer to the postseason with a 2-1 win over the Phillies on Sunday.

The five-time defending NL East champion Phillies had won four in a row and 12 of 15 to get in the wild-card race, only to lose two straight to the Braves.

The Phillies are five games out of the second wild-card spot with nine games left.

“The noose is getting tighter,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “But we're still there.”

Cliff Lee (6-8) struck out 11 in eight strong innings, but lost for the first time since Aug. 11. Lee hadn't allowed more than a run in each of his past five starts and only one of his two runs allowed Sunday was earned.

The Phillies could miss the postseason for the first time since 2006.

“We've put ourselves in a position we don't want to be in,” Lee said. “You can't do anything about it now.”

The Braves are set to answer how they'd respond to their 2011 collapse with a celebration at Turner Field.

Hudson (16-6) struck out four and allowed one unearned run to send the Braves back to Atlanta with a shot at winning at least an NL wild-card berth.

A year after a historic September collapse, the Braves are again close to a postseason spot. They can clinch during a six-game homestand that opens Tuesday.

The win reduced Atlanta's magic number for securing an NL wild-card playoff spot to two.

“It's a good feeling,” Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. “We're in a good spot to, at the very least, make the playoffs. We're not going to quit anything.”

The Braves learned the hard way the crushing disappointment of blowing a big September lead. The Braves were up 8{ games through Sept. 5 last year, but went 9-18 down the stretch and were overtaken by St. Louis on the final day of the season.

The Braves can almost work the final week of this season on setting their playoff rotation.

“I have one or two more starts before, hopefully, we get into the playoffs and it really starts counting,” Hudson said.

David Ross hit a solo homer and Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth for his 39th save.

The Braves had to listen to questions all season about how they would turn the page on their poor ending to 2011.

Looks as if they can put the champagne on ice.

The Braves have won seven of nine and 14 of their past 20 overall.
Hudson was on top of his game, allowing a single in the third and one in the fifth. His only mistake came in the sixth. Jimmy Rollins worked a leadoff walk, advanced to second on Hudson's errant pickoff attempt. Rollins scored on Chase Utley's sacrifice fly.

Hudson, who also doubled, has won at least 16 games in each of his past three seasons.

“I was able to come in and beat a great pitcher today,” Hudson said.

Ross gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the second when his eighth homer of the year went over the wall in center.

The Braves loaded the bases against Lee in the third, getting one runner aboard when Lee bobbled a grounder, and Uggla's sacrifice fly made it 2-1.

While the Braves handled the constant questioning about their meltdown with class, it's clear how much earning a spot in this year's field would mean.

Considering last season's collapse, securing any playoff spot is quite the accomplishment. It would have been the biggest September meltdown in baseball history except that Boston blew a nine-game lead during the same month.

Forget about it now. The Braves, who are off Monday, will soon have a reason to again enjoy the postseason.

“We were able to scrap and get just enough to win,” Hudson said.

Related Topics Phillies, Atlanta Braves
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