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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.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.