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Cormier keeps Phillies in check
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Brian McCann runs to first base after hitting a two-run double in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in Atlanta, Monday. - photo by Associated Press
    ATLANTA — Maybe it was the heat. Perhaps it was carryover from a bad loss to the Marlins. Whatever it was, Ryan Howard and Aaron Rowand couldn’t make contact, and the Philadelphia Phillies lost again.
    Howard and Rowand combined to go 0-for-7 with five strikeouts and the Phillies lost 5-1 to the Atlanta Braves on Monday.
    Philadelphia, only two games out of first place four days ago, suddenly is five back in the NL East, and last week’s optimism is fading as the deficit grows.
    ‘‘We’ve got to find a way to recreate some momentum here and turn this into a respectable trip,’’ Jamie Moyer (12-11) said after giving up four runs in 5 2-3 innings.
    The Phillies swept New York in a four-game series last week to pull to within two games of the Mets. Since then, they’ve lost three of four, including two of three at Florida.
    ‘‘Those four wins against New York don’t mean as much at this point,’’ Moyer said.
    Manager Charlie Manuel suggested the Phillies hadn’t recovered from Sunday’s 7-6 loss to the Marlins, when Philadelphia blew a 5-0 lead.
    ‘‘I’d say some of the game yesterday carried over to today,’’ Manuel said, adding he is worried about the growing gap between the Mets and his team.
    ‘‘We’re losing ground with 25 games to play,’’ Manuel said. ‘‘Yeah, of course we do (worry).’’
    Added Moyer: ‘‘You can’t make up five games until you make up one game. You can’t look down the road.’’
    The Braves recovered after being swept by New York in a three-game weekend series, but they are still 7 1/2 behind the Mets.
    ‘‘We’re gonna just have to run a streak here, see what happens,’’ said Braves manager Bobby Cox.
    Cormier did not allow a home run for the first time in seven starts. He had given up 13 homers in 32 innings before Monday’s start, but he relied on his curveball to hold the Phillies to only four hits — including three to Chase Utley — and one run in 5 2-3 innings.
    ‘‘I built on it last start, threw it a lot more, and today that was the pitch I went to when I needed it,’’ Cormier said. ‘‘It was a good one today.’’
    Cormier (2-4) struck out five with one walk in his second straight win.
    ‘‘I feel like I’m where I need to be,’’ Cormier said. ‘‘You’re not always going to have the best outing of your life, but it feels good to get a win today.’’
    Brian McCann hit a two-run double in a three-run fourth inning as the Braves snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided falling to .500 for the first time since June 24.
    Peter Moylan, Manny Acosta, Tyler Yates and Rafael Soriano combined to pitch 3 1-3 hitless innings for Atlanta.
    Moyer struck out seven but gave up nine hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked two batters while suffering his first loss in three starts against Atlanta this season.
    The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Utley doubled to right and scored on Pat Burrell’s single to left.
    Philadelphia’s only other serious threat came in the sixth, when Burrell popped out to end the inning with runners on first and third.
    ‘‘It wasn’t our day,’’ Utley said. ‘‘We didn’t swing the bats very well. ... Playing today’s game in warm weather didn’t help. The heat wears on you.’’
    The Braves scored three runs on three hits off Moyer in the bottom of the fourth. McCann’s bases-loaded double to the right-field wall drove in Mark Teixeira and Jeff Francoeur. Andruw Jones scored on Kelly Johnson’s fly ball to shallow center when Aaron Rowand’s throw to the plate sailed over the head of catcher Carlos Ruiz.
    Pinch-hitter Brayan Pena, in his first at-bat since he was recalled from Triple-A Richmond on Saturday, drove in McCann from third with a two-out single up the middle in the sixth. Pena beat shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ throw to first, giving Atlanta a 4-1 lead and knocking Moyer out of the game.
    Atlanta added a run off Tom Gordon in the seventh. Gordon walked Matt Diaz and gave up singles to Chipper Jones and Teixeira to load the bases. Diaz scored on Francoeur’s fly ball to deep right.

Notes: Burrell, who hit into a double play in the first inning, was 0-for-12 on the road trip before his RBI single in the fourth. ... 3B Abraham Nunez remained in the game after he fouled a ball off the plate and was hit in the face in the sixth. ... Howard has struck out 16 times in his last 27 at-bats dating back to Aug. 29.

Cormier gives Braves lift with second straight win
    ATLANTA — It looked like an ugly matchup: Lance Cormier, who had given up 13 homers in 32 innings, against Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies, who are third in the National League in home runs.
    The result: For the first time in seven starts, Cormier didn’t allow a homer in the Atlanta Braves’ 5-1 win on Monday.
    ‘‘Home runs are going to happen,’’ Cormier said. ‘‘The last start I gave up a home run to a second baseman (Florida’s Dan Uggla) who had 28 of them. It’s a bad thing if you’re giving them up to guys with one and two, but when guys have home runs like that, they’re not just getting me.’’
    Added Cormier: ‘‘A lot of that home run total was in the first two starts.’’
    Cormier, who began the season on the disabled list with strained triceps and then had to rebuild arm strength, gave up a combined seven homers in his first two starts — both in losses to the Chicago Cubs.
    But the tendency to give up homers was not limited to his first two starts. Cormier also gave up three homers in a 4-0 loss to Arizona on Aug. 17 and three more in a 4-2 loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 22.
    Since the loss to the Reds, Cormier (2-4) has won back-to-back starts, finally showing the form that earned him a spot in Atlanta’s rotation in spring training.
    Cormier was 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA in five spring games. He beat out Kyle Davies for a starting job before suffering the arm injury.
    Cormier, 26, has allowed a combined total of three runs in beating Florida and Philadelphia.
    Howard was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
    ‘‘I feel like I’m where I need to be,’’ Cormier said. ‘‘You’re not always going to have the best outing of your life, but it feels good to get a win today.’’

Moment of silence
    The Braves observed a moment of silence before Monday’s game in memory of Danville coach Mel Roberts, who died Saturday at 64, one day after completing his 11th season in the organization.

    The Braves said Sunday that Tim Hudson’s scheduled start on Tuesday was being pushed back a day to Wednesday, but manager Bobby Cox said the plan all along was for Hudson to pitch Wednesday. Cox said Buddy Carlyle will start Tuesday’s game.

Strong releif
    The Braves bullpen was almost perfect Monday. Peter Moylan, Manny Acosta, Tyler Yates and Rafael Soriano threw 3 1-3 hitless innings while allowing only a walk.
    Soriano retired the Phillies in order in the ninth.
    ‘‘He’s throwing strikes and he’s throwing hard,’’ Cox said. ‘‘He looks like a closer to me.’’
    Soriano took over the role when Bob Wickman was designated for assignment on Aug. 24.