In a game that very well may have mirrored what the National League East pennant race will look like, the Atlanta Braves dropped the first game of the series to the Philadelphia Phillies in 10 innings, 3-2.
The game featured Philadelphia's decorated veteran Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.45 ERA) and Atlanta's young gun Brandon Beachy (3-1, 3.21 ERA) on the hill in a showcase of just how good these pitching staffs are.
Beachy gave up eight hits in his six innings of work, but struck out six and only gave up two runs to a potent Phillies offense. Halladay, on the other hand, gave up six hits and two hits in seven innings while striking out seven.
Chipper Jones started to create the first damage to Hallady in the top of the second inning with a lead-off single. Philly catcher Carlos Ruiz then allowed a passed ball to get to the backstop, which was followed by a Freddie Freeman RBI single.
But Philadelphia had an answer for the Braves every time. In the bottom of the second with runners on the corners and one out, Wilson Valdez drove in Raul Ibanez with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The top of the fourth saw Brian McCann lead off with a single, which was followed by a Jones double. After Halladay struck out Freeman on a full count curveball, Dan Uggla brought in McCann with an infield single.
But in the bottom of the frame, Beachy gave up a solo shot to Carlos Ruiz to tie the game.
The score would stay 2-2 until the 10th, even when the Braves knocked on the door when Nate McLouth hit a two-out triple. Halladay then got Eric Hinske to fly out to end the inning.
Eric O'Flaherty then returned to his form with a perfect seventh. Jonny Venters then had to work himself out of a jam with one out and two on to stay unscathed in the eighth.
Scott Linebrink then allowed a one-out single to Jimmy Rollins in the ninth. With John Mayberry up to bat, Rollins ran on the first pitch, but a pitch out had been called and McCann threw him out at second. Mayberry walked later in the at-bat, resulting in Fredi Gonzalez replacing Linebrink with George Sherrill to end the inning by getting Chase Utley to line out to Alex Gonzalez.
Philadelphia's bullpen was perfect on the evening, as Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Juan Perez combined for three innings and no baserunners allowed.
Scott Proctor came in for Atlanta to work the bottom of the 10th inning. Ryan Howard what looked like a lead-off double, but Jordan Schafer robbed him with a diving catch in left-center. That set up Ibanez's walk-off solo homer to end the game.
The loss drops the Braves 3.5 games out of first place. The best they can manage before the All-Star Game now is to win the series to be 1.5 games out.
The series continues at 4:10 has forecasts of another pitchers duel, this time featuring Tommy Hanson (10-4, 2.52 ERA) and Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.62 ERA). Lee has not fared well against Atlanta in his career, compiling a 1-3 record with a 6.15 ERA.
O'Flaherty back to form.
Venters hit and walk, got out of it.
Linebrink 2/3 with hit and walk, Sherrill got out of that.
Proctor gave up homer to Raul Ibanez with one down in the 10th.
Schafer diving catch on Howard in 10thTags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Brandon Beachy, Brian McCann, Carlos Ruiz, Chipper Jones, MLB, Philadelphia Phillies, Raul Ibanez, Roy Halladay