Somehow, some way, the Phillies managed to come into Sunday's ballgame with the chance to sweep the Atlanta Braves. After Friday night's one-run victory and last night's walk off winner by Freddy Galvis, the Phillies had the momentum going into their final matchup of the season at Citizen's Bank Park against the Braves. Paul Maholm was tabbed by Atlanta to take the mound this afternoon, while the Phillies sent the resurgent Cole Hamels to hunt down the win.
In the home half of the first inning, leadoff hitter Cesar Hernandez was able to reach base when a Maholm breaking ball just grazed his back foot. A few pitches later, the Braves recognized what the Phillies were trying to do the basepath, and were able to pick off Hernandez taking off for second. Jimmy Rollins, who was at the plate for the pickoff, walked with one away. Rollins then successfully stole his nineteenth base of the season, and was brought home when Chase Utley split the gap in right field for a double. Darin Ruf followed up with a base hit of his own, and the Phillies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
After a quiet first inning, the Braves got a bit of retaliation against Cole Hamels in the second. Chris Johnson was K'd to start the frame, but janitor-turned-major-leaguer Evan Gattis sent a ball deep into center field for a solor homerun, closing the Philly lead to just 2-1.
The Braves would only be able to record two hits in the game off of Cole Hamels. The first was the solo homerun by Gattis. But what was the second? A solo homerun by Evan Gattis. A slow, first pitch curveball was crushed into left field in the seventh inning to tie the game at two a piece, much to the dismay of Hamels.
Looking poised to head into the ninth tied once more, Darin Ruf took it in his own hands to regain the lead. Leading off the eighth, Ruf rocketed a pitch into the first few rows in right center field for the homerun and a 3-2 Philly lead. B.J. Rosenberg would relieve Hamels after his eight inning performance, and retired the Braves 1-2-3 to finish off the game at 3-2.
For the first time since June, the Phillies swept a series, and it was against the first place team in the National League East. Despite the two homeruns allowed to Evan Gattis, Cole Hamels was absolutely unhittable. Literally. As his two-plus month reign as the best pitcher in the Phillies rotation continued, so to did Darin Ruf's hot streak. An exciting series propels the Phillies into an off day, followed by a San Diego Padres series to begin Tuesday in Philly. Andrew Cashner will take on Tyler Cloyd in that game.