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Phillies slide by Braves with 5-4 win

PHILADELPHIA - Even grizzled old Bobby Cox found this one strange.

Phillies starter Cole Hamels and Braves starter Chuck James each gave up four runs in the first inning, then kept the opposing lineup off the scoreboard - and without a hit - the rest of their outings.

Jayson Werth finally scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by Yunel Escobar in the seventh inning, and Philadelphia hung on to beat Atlanta 5-4 Friday night.

"It was a strange game," the Braves' veteran manager said. "Neither pitcher was making good pitches in the first inning."

Hamels (13-5) tossed six good ones after that, retiring 17 of his last 19 batters and allowing just two baserunners - one on a walk and one on Wes Helms' fielding error. Neither reached second base, as Hamels walked two and struck out two.

"I just had to step back and relax," Hamels said. "I wasn't able to finish guys off in that first inning. I just needed to forget about that and move on. I had to concentrate on getting ahead of hitters and finish them off."

Hamels remains on pace to become the Phillies' first 20-game winner since another left-hander, Steve Carlton, accomplished the feat in 1982. The Phillies have won three of their last four games and pulled ahead of Atlanta into second in the NL East.

James didn't allow another baserunner, retiring the final 16 batters he faced before leaving for a pinch-hitter. James struck out five and walked one over six innings, giving up four runs and five hits. He threw 89 pitches.

"I was struggling with location in the first inning," he said. "The most frustrating part is that we jump out to a four-run lead and you want to come out and put a zero up after that. I wasn't able to do that."

Peter Moylan (4-2) surrendered a leadoff single to Werth in the seventh, the first hit allowed by the rookie reliever in 25 batters. Chris Coste put down a sacrifice bunt, moving Werth to second, and pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs singled deep into the hole at shortstop.

Escobar made a fine backhand play but threw the ball wide of first base. The play was ruled a single and a throwing error, allowing Werth to score the decisive run.

"It was a tough play," Cox said. "Not many shortstops would have gotten to that ball. If we catch the ball at first base, it's an out. But it was an impossible hop - just a tough play."

Philadelphia's J.C. Romero got the first two outs of the eighth before Antonio Alfonseca entered the game. Jeff Francoeur doubled down the left field line for the Braves' first hit since the first inning, but Alfonseca recovered to get Andruw Jones to ground out.

Tom Gordon pitched the ninth for his sixth save in 10 chances and first since May 1.

The first inning was a wild one at Citizens Bank Park. Both teams sent nine batters to the plate, had five hits and scored four runs in the frame.

Matt Diaz started a string of four consecutive hits with a solo homer to left - his ninth of the season and fourth in six games. Mark Teixeira singled home Chipper Jones, and after Francoeur singled, Brian McCann roped a two-run double to left-center to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.

Philadelphia wasted no time answering against James.

Jimmy Rollins and Tadahito Iguchi had back-to-back singles and Pat Burrell delivered an RBI double. Ryan Howard followed with a sacrifice fly and, one out later, Helms hit a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole to tie the game at 4. It was Helms' fifth of the season.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he played Helms because he'd had success against James (3-for-6), and because he liked the number on Helms' back. No. 18 was the same number that the late John Vukovich, inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame before the game, wore in his coaching days.

"I thought having the number 18 in the game was big," Manuel said.

Windy conditions played havoc throughout the contest.

In the first, Teixeira, second baseman Kelly Johnson and James lost a fly ball on the infield before it fell harmlessly into foul territory - 15 feet from any of the three players.

Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand left the game in the second inning with blurred vision in his right eye. He is schedule to have it examined on Saturday.

Notes: Phillies Wall of Famers Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Dick Allen, Garry Maddox, Tony Taylor, Bob Boone and Dallas Green were on hand to help induct Vukovich posthumously. Green, who was inducted last season, presented the award to Vukovich's family. ... Atlanta placed RHP Octavio Dotel on the 15-day DL with a strained right shoulder and recalled RHP Manny Acosta from Triple-A Richmond.

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