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Braves' wild-card hopes suffer another blow

Braves starter Randall Delgado didn't get much help Monday as Atlanta scored just twice and fell to the Phillies, 4-2.

Braves starter Randall Delgado didn't get much help Monday as Atlanta scored just twice and fell to the Phillies, 4-2.

ATLANTA -- The absence of Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens from the rotation has drawn most of the attention and concern. But if the Braves miss the playoffs, the team's recent swoon at the plate may be just as much the culprit.

After scoring just one run while losing the final two games in Washington over the weekend, the Braves managed two quick runs off the Phillies' Cliff Lee and it looked like things might be about to run.

Then the offense went stagnant again.

Lee retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced and the Phillies came back to hand the Braves a potentially costly 4-2 loss Monday night before a concerned and disappointed crowd of 42,597 at Turner Field.

The Braves got the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth inning after a leadoff double by Dan Uggla. But Phillies closer Ryan Madson struck out Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann before getting pinch-hitter Jason Heyward to ground out to end the game.

The Braves, who once led the National League wild-card standings by 9 -1/2 games, are 9-16 in September and in danger of being passed by St. Louis as the regular season moves into the final two games.

Derek Lowe, who is a disappointing 9-16 with a 4.92 ERA, will start for the Braves tonight in the middle game of the series. Roy Oswalt (8-10) is the scheduled pitcher for the NL East champion Phillies.

Chipper Jones homered off Lee (17-8) in the first inning and Alex Gonzalez doubled in Matt Diaz, who had also hit a double, in the second. But rookie Randall Delgado, who started the season in Class AA before an August promotion to AAA Gwinnett, couldn't hold the 2-0 lead.

After retiring 10 of the first 11 Phillies batters, Delgado gave up a bases-loaded RBI single to Placido Polanco in the fourth inning and a home run to Jimmy Rollins in the fifth.

With the game tied, manager Fredi Gonzalez pinch hit for Delgado in the bottom of the fifth and the Phillies soon had the lead.

Cristhian Martinez, who spent most of the season with Gwinnett, gave up a one-out triple in the sixth to Shane Victorino and Eric O'Flaherty was brought in to face the left-handed hitting Raul Ibanez.

Although it was the right percentage move, Ibanez spoiled the strategy with a single that put the Phillies ahead.

Lee gave up a two-out double to Jones in the sixth inning, breaking a string of 12 straight outs. But Uggla bounced back to the mound and Freeman popped out to end the threat.

Lee left after allowing five hits and the two runs in six innings. He struck out six and walked none.

Delgado, who came in 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in six major league starts, allowed five hits and two runs in five innings. He walked one and struck out none.

The Phillies added an insurance run in the eighth inning off Jonny Venters, who has struggled of late after being dominant most of the season. Victorino doubled past Jones at third base and Ibanez, again hitting a lefty, followed with an RBI single.

Phillies reliever Brad Lidge walked Michael Bourn and gave up a single to Martin Prado in the bottom of the eighth. But Jones bounced into an inning-ending double play.