Braves-Phillies: Atlanta Bullpen Blows 7-Run Lead, Philadelphia Avoid Sweep

Kevin MarkumCorrespondent IApril 9, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 21: Peter Moylan #58 of the Atlanta Braves delivers the pitch against the New York Mets during the game at Shea Stadium on April 21, 2007 in Flushing, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Making a great attempt to sweep the defending World Champion Phillies, the Braves fell just short, going down 12-11 in Wednesday's series finale.

Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson, both regular starters, were late scratches from the Braves lineup on Wednesday. However, the lineup very easily lit up Phillies starter Joe Blanton for seven runs in only four innings.

Brian McCann had his second homer of the season off the Phillies starter and had a base hit RBI in the 3rd inning, which started a five-run Braves rally.

The offensive firepower of Atlanta's Brian McCann and rookie Jordan Schafer was not enough for the very aggressive offense of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Javier Vazquez had a respectable first start for the Braves with 6 IP, 3 ER, and 5 K.

The relief pitching, however, was another story. The bullpen had 3 IP, allowing a total of 9 ER, and issuing a ridiculous six walks! Five of those walks came in the bottom of Philadelphia's eight-run 7th inning.

The Braves, after allowing only one run in the first two games of the series, allowed an unprecedented 12 ER on Wednesday. Despite the showing, I still don't think this spells trouble for the Braves pitching staff.

The starters are still solid as far as I'm concerned. You can't argue with only 4 ER allowed by our first three starters so far.

Another thing to consider is that Moylan, Boyer, and Campillo (who I would say were the main three culprits for the Braves collapse on Wednesday) were all getting their first regular season appearance.

Hopefully, after getting out some of the butterflies, the Braves middle relievers will be able to do the job and get the ball to closer Mike Gonzalez in the 9th inning.

Gonzalez struggled, himself, in his first outing of the season on Sunday night, before pitching a perfect 9th inning in Tuesday's contest. Hopefully this holds true for the other Braves relievers, especially Peter Moylan who is expected to be a go-to-guy this summer.

For you Phillies fans out there, it was good to see Chase Utley getting the bat on the ball going 2-4 with 2 RBI, 1 R, and a walk late in the game.

Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are both still struggling at the plate, but hopefully they will find their swing in the friendly confines of Coors Field when they begin a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies on Friday evening.

The Braves will also have a day off on Thursday, before picking up again against NL East rival Washington Nationals.

Derek Lowe is scheduled to get his second start of the season against Nationals rookie Shairon Martis.

Friday's matchup will be the first home game of the season for the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, GA.  The game is scheduled to start @ 7:35 PM EST.  It should be an exciting welcome for Braves fans who are anxious to get a good look at Derek Lowe for the first time.