Jayson Werth continued to impress as he had four RBIs, tying his career total, and led the Phillies to a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Kyle Kendrick put the Phillies into a hole early on, allowing three runs in the first inning, but after that he pitched five scoreless innings. In the fourth inning, Werth scored Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with a double. In the fifth inning, Howard scored Shane Victorino and Werth scored Howard again, and in the seventh, Werth then hit Eric Bruntlett (tonight's defensive sub for Pat Burrell) home. J.C. Romero and Tom Gordon pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings, and Brad Lidge got his tenth save, despite giving up his first earned run of the year, which was partly the fault of tonight's hero, Jayson Werth, mistiming a fly ball.
This was an extremely important game for the Phillies to win, being the start of a six game homestand and against a division rival. The NL East has the potential to be an extremely competitive division, and the way the Mets and Braves have played thus far, they're not too far behind the Phillies (or...the Marlins?). The Braves have had some injury issues, and with tonight's loss have a .500 record, but Bobby Cox is always a threat to work some kind of voodoo magic to make the Braves succeed.
This year they have a lot going for them, but in particular a very productive Chipper Jones. Chipper went 3-4 in his ongoing success against Phillies pitching. The Braves rotation is less than stellar once you get past Tim Hudson. Tom Glavine has not been impressive and Chuck James and tonight's pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes don't strike fear in the hearts of their opponents (I have a hard time imagining anyone named Jo-Jo accomplishing that. Jo-Jo is a character from a Dr. Seuss book.). John Smoltz moving to the bullpen doesn't help matters, nor does Mike Hampton's injury, but we never expected to see him back anyway. The Mets will probably present more cause for concern than the Braves, but the Braves can never be counted out.
Kyle Kendrick seems to remember how to pitch once he gives up three runs. Once Kendrick gets past that point, he pitches similarly to last year, which really just means aiming to get the hitters to ground or fly out rather than dominating. This is all well and good, and especially if he's up against the back end of the other team's rotation and the offense should easily be able to accumulate more than three runs. Still, it would be nice if Kendrick could skip that step. The bullpen continues to be effective despite Lidge's first earned run of the season. Honestly, he was due and it didn't even matter. Ryan Howard went 2-4 with a double and an RBI single today, and it appears as if he might be starting to heat up. He's actually getting hits now rather than giving himself the classic power hitter choice: home run or strikeout. He's notorious for starting out slow, but that seems to be starting to turn around *knock on wood.* But tonight's hero was Jayson Werth, who has cooled off since the beginning of the season, but is still a perfectly good bat in the lineup, as tonight proved.