“It's Not Pretty Sometimes, But It's Good”

Philadelphia's first series of the season against the Atlanta Braves left manager Charlie Manuel feeling good about his starting pitching.

Jamie Moyer did not give up an earned run in six innings and the Phillies beat the weak-hitting Braves 8-3 on Thursday night to take two of three from their NL East rivals.

Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay and Moyer combined to hold Atlanta without an earned run in 23 innings.

"I'll take that,'' Manuel said. "That's what we need.''

The Braves took a .227 team batting average into the game after being shut out 2-0 by Halladay on Wednesday night. They had nine
hits, including only four against the 47-year-old Moyer (2-1), who struck out four and walked two.

"He's a good pitcher still,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "At his age, he still competes like crazy. He doesn't miss too many spots.''

Manuel said Moyer "took us straight to where we wanted to go in the game.''

"It's not pretty sometimes, but it's good,'' Manuel said of Moyer, who lowered his ERA from 7.50 to 5.00.

Atlanta's only win in the series came after it trailed 3-0 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth before rallying with three homers off Phillies relievers for a 4-3 win in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Braves slugger Chipper Jones, who had two hits, said the Phillies relied on more than strong starting pitching to win the series.

"A lot has to do with their defense,'' Jones said. "You've got to get defensive contributions in order to hold a team scoreless and no earned runs in three games by the starters.

"That's something that we expect from them. They're a solid team. That's why they're the two-time National League champs.''

The first-place Phillies moved two games ahead of Atlanta.

Juan Castro had three hits and Shane Victorino drove in two runs for Philadelphia.

Derek Lowe (3-1) gave up six hits and five runs, four earned, in five innings. Lowe said he admired Moyer's performance.

"He knows how to pitch,'' Lowe said. "You look at the radar gun and you think there's no way, but he understands how to pitch.''

Moyer made his major league debut on June 16, 1986, more than three years before Atlanta's 20-year-old rookie right fielder, Jason Heyward, was born. Heyward, who was hit by a pitch from Moyer in the second inning, was 0 for 3.

Moyer has a 19-year-old son, Dillon.

"I hope (Heyward) listens to his parents and coaches more than (Dillon) does,'' Moyer said with a laugh.

Chad Durbin, who gave up one run, Danys Baez and David Herndon each pitched one inning in relief of Moyer.

Three straight singles by Greg Dobbs, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, followed by Jayson Werth's sacrifice fly, gave Philadelphia a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

"It was one of those games where we got a lead and then got 27 outs,'' Manuel said.

The Phillies added three runs in the third. With one out and the bases loaded, Raul Ibanez hit a possible double-play ball to Martin Prado at second base, but Prado threw high to shortstop Yunel Escobar at second base for an error as two runs scored. Castro added a run-scoring single.

The Phillies added to their lead on Victorino's sacrifice fly in the sixth and RBI singles by pinch-hitter Ross Gload and Victorino in the seventh.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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