Braves Drop into Tie with Cardinals for NL Wild Card
“It's like living out a bad dream... You never expect this to happen to you."
-- Chipper Jones
The Atlanta Braves are in the middle of an absolute free fall. In fact, they're all but giving the National League Wild Card to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Derek Lowe struggled once again, surrendering five runs on five hits and exiting in the fifth inning to a chorus of boos from the home crowd at Turner Field during his team's 7-1 loss to the NL East-champion Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta has now lost four straight and eight of 11, squandering the 8 1/2-game lead they enjoyed just three weeks ago.
Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, and Jimmy Rollins each went yard as the Phillies totally screwed up the Braves plans. They never even had a shot against Roy Oswalt, who gave up only three hits over six solid innings. Atlanta will send Tim Hudson to the mound Wednesday against Joe Blanton in an attempt to wrap up the Wild Card if they emerge victorious and the Cardinals manage to drop their final game of the season.
After rallying from a 5-0 deficit to crush the last-place Houston Astros 13-6, the Cardinals pulled even with the Braves, who had sole possession of the Wild Card lead since June 20. All good things must come to an end I suppose.
Ryan Theriot had a huge pinch hit appearance in the seventh inning, delivering a two-run triple before the Cards eventually kicked down the door. Also, Nick Punto boasted a four-hit night and hit his annual home run, likely the biggest of his career. Way to go, Nicky P.!
Now, St. Louis will turn to Chris Carpenter against Brett Myers for the regular-season finale. A few interesting facts here: Carpenter hasn't won in Houston since 2005, and Myers is currently on a little winning streak, getting his last four decisions with a 1.24 ERA over his past five starts. Hmmm...