Braves Vs. Phillies: Atlanta's Collapse Completed With 4-3 Loss

The Atlanta Braves lost, 4-3, to the Philadelphia Phillies, handing the NL Wild Card spot to the Cardinals. Baseball no longer exists.

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Braves vs. Phillies: Atlanta Falls Out Of Playoffs With 4-3 Loss In Extra Innings

The 2011 season is over for the Atlanta Braves. In a sense, Wednesday night's loss was a perfect representation of the season for Braves Country.

With Tim Hudson on the mound, the Phillies struck first. Hunter Pence drew a two-out walk and Ryan Howard followed with a double down the left field line. The 2011 Braves struggled early on in the season, the team struggled early in tonight's ball game.

Atlanta battled back in the bottom half of the first inning. Michael Bourn singled, stole second, moved to third on a fielder's choice groundout from Martin Prado, and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Chipper Jones. Just as this year's team did, they eventually caught their footing and started to move back towards .500 after the first month.

In the second inning, Dan Uggla hit a two-run home run to make the score 3-1. Just as the Braves did in May and June, the team impressed and made big strides forward. They were among the leaders in the standings and they were firing on all cylinders, just as they did in innings two through six.

Imagine the seventh and eighth innings as August. Everything appeared to be going well, but a costly error from Jack Wilson allowed a run to score on a play that should have ended a scoring threat. And despite getting out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning, Jonny Venters struggles were eerily similar to the struggles in early-September; the team got out of a few tricky situations, but they were lucky to do so and were living off a prior lead they had built up.

Move on to the ninth inning, which is the middle of September. Craig Kimbrel, arguably the best reliever in all of baseball this season, was unable to shut the door in the ninth and blew the lead. Can you think of any team that had a lead early and eventually blew it in the final stages of the year? Fortunately, Kris Medlen saved the team and induced a popup in foul territory to end the threat.

The damage had already been done, though, and it was 3-3.

Imagine the extra innings as the final two weeks of the season. Atlanta had a multitude of chances to win the game, just as the team had a multitude of options to seal the deal in the wild card race. Instead, their continually poor at-bats cost them a chance to win the game.

Now it's the thirteenth inning, which brings us to the present day. The Braves had a lead early, watched it slowly slip away, and -- just like the wild card lead yesterday -- saw it disappear in the blink of an eye. With runners on the corners and two outs, Hunter Pence (yeah, the guy Atlanta could have had at the trade deadline if they really wanted him) hits a broken bat infield single that lands between Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman. Neither player is able to make a play on the ball and the score becomes 4-3 in the Phillies favor.

Atlanta made it cruel on their fans in the bottom half of the inning as Dan Uggla drew a walk to put the tying run on base, but Freddie Freeman hit into a 3-6-3 double play to end the game.

The season was over.

Nine wins and eighteen loses in the month of September, two wins in their final ten games. 

A team that had held a lead in the wild card standings since June 28 lost it for no more then 24 hours and they are no longer headed to the playoffs because of it.

This season was a roller coaster for Braves Country. It had it's thrills, chills, triumphs and heartbreaks. In the end, we came up just one game short of the playoffs.

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals. They had an incredible month of September.

That being said, the Braves completely threw this season away and have no one to blame but themselves.

This one hurts. A lot. And it's going to for a long time.

Go Braves.


Braves vs. Phillies Score: Jack Wilson's Error, Craig Kimbrel's Struggles Lead To 3-3 Tie

After an early 3-1 lead was in the favor of the Atlanta Braves, the lead is now gone.

The first Phillies run came on an error from shortstop Jack Wilson. A normally solid defender, a well-hit ball ricocheted off his glove and into the outfield. With one out and runners on the corners, a double play would have ended the threat. Instead, the Braves lead was down to 3-2.

Jonny Venters worked the eighth inning and was fortunate to escape a bases loaded jam. After hitting Ryan Howard with a pitch and walking Ben Francisco, Venters got Raul Ibanez to strike out swinging on a nasty slider.

Craig Kimbrel, who set the rookie record for saves in a season just a few weeks ago, blew the lead in the ninth. With the bases loaded and one out, Chase Utley took a high fastball and hit it to left field. Martin Prado made the catch, but Pete Orr tagged up and came to score easily at the plate. After walking Hunter Pence, Kimbrel was removed from the game for Kris Medlen.

Medlen, who has made just one appearance in 2011, came up huge and got Michael Martinez to pop out to Chipper Jones in foul territory.

In the bottom of the ninth, Brian McCann popped up and both Jason Heyward and Jack Wilson struck out swinging.


Braves vs. Phillies Score: Dan Uggla Homer Gives Atlanta 3-1 Lead

With the score tied 1-1 in the third inning, Atlanta had a big scoring opportunity with runners on first and second with no outs and Chipper Jones at the plate. On a 1-0 pitch, both Michael Bourn and Martin Prado attempted to steal. Bourn appeared to be safe at first, but he came off the plate as he bounced up and was called out. Bourn and Fredi Gonzalez both argued the call, but to no avail.

Chipper then struck out and it appeared all of the momentum was gone. Fortunately, Dan Uggla deposited an inside fastball to the left-center field seats to give the Braves a 3-1 lead. The crowd of nearly 40,000 erupted as the ball left the park.

Tim Hudson found himself in trouble in the fourth inning. Hunter Pence and Ryan Howard both singled to lead off the inning. Hudson was able to work himself out of the jam, though, inducing a fielders choice ground ball and two strikeouts.

Brian McCann led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, but back-to-back fielder's choice groundouts from Matt Diaz and Jack Wilson erased any chance of a rally.

Hudson is back on the mound once again in the fifth inning. Carlos Ruiz was retired on a slick play from shortstop Jack Wilson and incredible stretch from Freddie Freeman. Cole Hamels struck out and Jimmy Rollins flew out to end the inning.


Braves vs. Phillies Score: Teams Tied 1-1 After Two Innings, Tim Hudson Pitching For Atlanta

After two and a half innings in Atlanta, the Braves and Phillies are tied 1-1. Tim Hudson is on the mound for the home team and Joe Blanton opposes him for Philadelphia.

The Phillies struck first in the first inning. After two quick outs, Hunter Pence drew a walk and Ryan Howard went to the opposite-field with an RBI-double down the line. Fortunately, Hudson struck out Ryan Mayberry and left Howard stranded on second base.

The Braves battled back in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Bourn led off the game with a line drive single up the middle and promptly stole 2nd base. Martin Prado moved Bourn to third base with a weak grounder to the shortstop. Chipper Jones took a first-pitch fastball and sent it deep to left field. Bourn scored with relative ease and the game was tied.

After a quick second inning from Hudson, the Braves had another scoring opportunity. Freddie Freeman doubled to start the inning and Matt Diaz came up with an infield single after a Brian McCann strikeout. With runners on the corners, Jack Wilson and Tim Hudson both struck out swinging to end the threat.

Hudson worked a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the third. Blanton is now out of the game and Cole Hamels will likely work an inning or two.


Braves vs. Phillies: Derek Lowe Struggles Once Again In 7-1 Loss

The Braves lead in the wild card race is gone. A lead of nearly ten games on September 1 is gone and now there is just one game remaining in the 2011 regular season. 

Derek Lowe was predictably awful in his start and was booed off the mound. The veteran allowed a solo-home run in the first inning to Chase Utley which dampened the Braves' spirits. Jimmy Rollins drove in a run in the third inning with a single and Hunter Pence increased the lead with a sacrifice fly that plated Roy Oswalt. Placido Polanco drove home the fourth run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fourth as well.

Hunter Pence belted home run No. 22 of the season in the fifth to make the score 6-0. Jimmy Rollins hit a home run -- his second in as many days -- in the seventh. 

The only offense from Atlanta's side came from a ninth inning home run from Martin Prado. A little too late, don't you think? The only true chance the team had was runners on first and second with one out in the fourth inning, but Chipper Jones tapped back to the mound weakly to induce a 1-6-3 double play to end the threat.

St. Louis won 12-6 against the Astros this evening and each team sits at 89-72 with one to play. Tim Hudson will take the mound for the Braves on Wednesday and he will be opposed by Joe Blanton and the Phillies bullpen. The Cardinals will send Chris Carpenter to the bump with Brett Myers going for the Astros.

This is it, folks. One game to win the wild card. If for some reason both the Braves and Cardinals win (or both lose) there would be a one-game playoff on Thursday in St. Louis.


Braves vs. Phillies: Atlanta Strikes Early, Bullpen Falters Late In 4-2 Loss

The Braves lost their third straight game on Monday against Cliff Lee and the Phillies, a team playing simply tune up for the playoffs and improve their stellar record.

Chipper Jones hit his eighteenth home run of the season in the first inning and gave the Braves their first lead in nearly 72 hours. Matt Diaz and Alex Gonzalez also contributed with back-to-back doubles in the second inning for the second run of the game. Unfortunately, that was all the scoring Lee and the Philadelphia bullpen would allow.

Placido Polanco cut the score in half with a two-out single up the middle. Jimmy Rollins followed up in the fifth inning with a solo-homer that just cleared the right field wall. The score was tied after five and the Braves had reverted back to their poor approach at the plate that has hampered them in September.

Raul Ibanez, facing Eric O'Flaherty, drove in Shane Victorino with a grounder that snuck through Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman in the sixth. Ibanez came through once again in the eighth inning and singled up the middle off Jonny Venters for a much-needed insurance run.

Uggla doubled to lead off the ninth inning, something that sparked the boisterous crowd of nearly 43,000 on Monday evening, but back-to-back strikeouts from Freeman and Brian McCann and groundout from Jason Heyward ended the inning and the game.

Fortunately, the Astros pulled out a victory against the second place Cardinals in the tenth inning. The Braves wild card lead remains at one game with two to play. The magic number is down to two. Let's clinch it up on Tuesday.


Braves vs. Phillies Series Preview: The End Is Here

This is it for the Atlanta Braves. The final series of the year is here and the team has just a one game lead in the wild card.

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