Phils Hit the Century Mark

And hurt Braves wild-card chances in the process

Phillies Placido Polanco Shane Victorino
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The Phillies returned to the 100-win plateau for the first time in more than a generation as Cliff Lee and the playoff-bound Phillies rallied for a 4-2 victory Monday night.

The Braves meanwhile took another wrenching loss in their September swoon, squandering an early two-run lead.

Lee (17-8) pitched six strong innings, Jimmy Rollins homered and Raul Ibanez drove in two runs, leading the NL East champions past their division rivals to start the final series of the regular season.

The W also put the Phillies to 100 wins -- one win short of the franchise-record mark last reached in 1977. The Phillies are the first National League team since the Cardinals in 2005 to break the century mark.

The Braves, who came into the night with a once-comfortable lead in the wild-card race shaved to a single game over St. Louis, lost their third in a row and seventh in the last 10 games. Their September record dropped to 9-16, sending a margin that had been 8-1/2 games three weeks ago to the verge of being totally wiped out.

St. Louis needed a win at Houston to pull even with two games remaining.

The Braves tried to rally at the end, but they couldn't string together any hits -- a familiar theme for a team that has scored only three runs in the last three games. Brad Lidge gave up a walk and a single in the eighth, but Chipper Jones grounded into an inning-ending double play that sent many in the announced crowd of 42,597 heading for the exits.

In the ninth, Dan Uggla lined one to left off Ryan Madson that got under the glove of a diving Ibanez. Uggla pulled up at second with a double and that's where he stayed. Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann struck out swinging before pinch-hitter Jason Heyward grounded out to first to end it. Madson earned his 32nd save.

Atlanta jumped out early on Lee, making his final tune-up before the playoffs. Jones drove his 18th homer into the left-field seats in the first, then Matt Diaz and Alex Gonzalez had back-to-back doubles in the second.

The Braves had not led a game in three days, but they didn't fare any better playing out front.

In the fourth, Philadelphia broke through against 21-year-old rookie Randall Delgado, making just his seventh big league start. Hunter Pence got it started with a one-out single. Ryan Howard lined another hit to right-center and Shane Victorino walked to load the bases. Delgado made a bid to escape the jam, retiring Ibanez on a foul popup, but Placido Polanco followed with a sharp single up the middle to bring home Pence.

The slow-running Howard had to stop at third, and Carlos Ruiz flied out to center with the Braves still leading 2-1. It didn't last long. Rollins tied it in the fifth, lining his 15th homer over the right-field fence.

Delgado was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom half, having surrendered five hits. The Phillies pulled ahead against the Atlanta bullpen.

With one out in the sixth, Shane Victorino yanked one down the right-field line off Cristhian Martinez (1-3) and sped all the way to third for a triple, just beating the relay throw. Eric O'Flaherty took over for Martinez, and the Braves pulled in the infield looking to cut off the go-ahead run. But Ibanez grounded one sharply past diving first baseman Freeman, and Victorino trotted home to make it 3-2.

Ibanez added another run-scoring hit in the eighth off Jonny Venters.

Lee looked shaky in the beginning, giving up four extra-base hits to the first eight Atlanta hitters. But he settled down after that, retiring the next 12 in a row.

After saying Lee would probably throw about 70 pitches in his final game before the playoffs, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel allowed the left-hander to stay in for 92. He gave up five hits and struck out six.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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