Everybody at Turner Field knew. Everyone sitting at home knew. Shane Victorino knew. Brian McCann knews and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez knew.
It was strike three. It was the pitch that would end the Phillies 7th inning scoring threat and keep them behind Atlanta heading into the bottom half.
But home plate umpire Dave Rackley called Eric O’Flaherty’s 0-2 pitch a ball, prolonging Victorino’s at-bat. Two pitches later, Victorino singled into center, scoring Rollins and tying the ball game at 4-apiece.
An inning later, the Phillies took a 5-4 lead when Ryan Howard was driven in by Raul Ibanez with one out in the 8th.
The Phillies went on to win that game, 5-4, and open a very important series with the Braves with a win.
Cole Hamels was the starter for the Phillies, allowing four runs through six innings on eight hits, one walk and seven strike outs. It was the first time since his season’s first start that he allowed more than three runs.
After the Phils tied it, Atlanta tried to answer back. Relief pitcher J.C. Romero allowed a lead-off double to Martin Prado in the bottom of the 7th. After a sacrifice bunt by Nate McLouth moved him over, Romero intentionally walked Chipper Jones and walked McCann.
Charlie Manuel saw the opportunity to yank his lefty, putting in young righty Michael Stutes in against left-handed power hitter Dan Uggla. The match-up easily favored Atlanta.
But in gut-check time, Stutes struck out Uggla for the second out of the inning. Manuel then lifted his reliever for Antonio Bastardo, who struck out rookie Freddie Freeman to end the scoring threat, ultimately killing Atlanta’s morale.
The Phillies struck first in the game when Ryan Howard hit a one-out, three-run homer of Braves starter Brandon Beachy, who was yanked after two innings.
2B: Rollins (6), Howards (9). HR: Howard (9).
WP: Bastardo (2-0). LP: O’Flaherty (1-2). S: Madson (6).