ATLANTA - There was no one-run victory for the Phillies on Wednesday night.
But they were almost one-hit.
The Phillies' three-game winning streak was halted by Atlanta right-hander Williams Perez, who gave up just two hits over eight walk-free innings in backboning the Braves' 5-1 win at Turner Field (see Instant Replay).
For the Braves, the victory was a double rarity. They have the worst record in the National League at 8-24. And they have won just two of 18 at home.
Perez opened the season in the Braves' rotation, but was sent to Triple A after allowing 13 hits and eight walks en route to posting a 5.11 ERA in three starts.
He began the day Wednesday in Triple A, but was recalled when the Braves traded scheduled starter Jhoulys Chacin to the Angels several hours before the first pitch.
The Phillies wouldn't have minded if the Braves had waited to make the deal. Perez opened the game with four no-hit innings. The only hits he gave up were a fifth-inning solo homer to Ryan Howard and an eighth-inning single to Freddy Galvis. He needed just 85 pitches to complete eight innings. The Phils got two more singles in the ninth against Braves reliever Arodys Vizcaino.
"I thought Perez was going to throw a complete game," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He pitched a hell of a game. He didn't give us a lot to hit other than a mistake to Howie. He changed speeds and threw strikes."
"It was his night," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "We just didn't get him."
The loss left the still surprising Phillies at 19-15 though 34 games. Twelve of their wins have come by one run as they've often gotten good pitching and little offense. They are averaging just 3.18 runs per game. Only Atlanta (3.03) has had more trouble scoring, not that it was a problem for the Braves in this game as they got to Jerad Eickhoff for seven hits, including a homer by Freddie Freeman, and four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
On Thursday night, the Phillies conclude a grueling 19-game stretch that features 16 road games. They are 12-6 so far and 9-6 on the road.
"We're at the tail end of a road trip," Mackanin said. "We were home for three days. It seems like a three-week-long road trip. For these guys to play all these one-run games night after night after night, there is sure to be a letdown at some point. It's not just hard on the pitchers knowing they can't make mistakes. But it's also tough on these guys to battle every night. It's tough on the defense, the offense, as well as the pitching.
"I don't want to make excuses, but it's a long time away from home. It's bound to catch up to you sooner than later."
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Eickhoff's problem in this start was simple, according to the manager.
"He didn't have command of anything," Mackanin said. "He threw some good curveballs, but he hung a lot of them. He got away with them. He didn't have command of his fastball. He got hit around a little bit."
Eickhoff is 1-5 with a 4.43 ERA in seven starts.
"He battled through his last outing," Mackanin said. "He looked a little bit the same. He didn't look like he was in full control because he wasn't spotting his fastball. That makes all the difference in the world. He threw too many good pitches to hit."
Eickhoff threw predominantly fastballs and curveballs, a predictable pattern. He mixed in his changeup in the fifth and Freeman belted it for a home run.
"I wasn't executing good pitches," Eickhoff said. "And when I did, I followed it up with a pitch that caught too much of the plate. I wasn't consistently hitting the corners."
Howard's home run accounted for the Phillies' only run. The homer was Howard's eighth of the season and 22nd in Turner Field, the most by a visiting player. Howard's 1-for-3 night raised his batting average to .182.