By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Braves bullpen blows big lead
Atlanta Braves left fielder Jordan Schafer dives for a fly ball hit by Philadelphia Phillies' Shane Victorino for a triple in the third inning Wednesday in Philadelphia. - photo by TOM MIHALEK

PHILADELPHIA — First, they got their bling. Then, they got their first win.

Four Phillies walked with the bases loaded during an eight-run seventh inning and Philadelphia rallied for a 12-11 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer, helping the defending World Series champions overcome a 10-3 deficit and avoid a three-game sweep on the day they received their shiny, new rings.

“We played 2 1/2 games where we hadn’t done much right, but we came back and got them,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Brian McCann and Jordan Schafer hit two-run homers for the Braves, and Javier Vazquez left with a seven-run lead after pitching six effective innings in his first start with his new team.

But the Phillies rallied against Atlanta’s bullpen in the seventh. Eric O’Flaherty got one out before Chase Utley singled and Ryan Howard was hit by a pitch. Peter Moylan came in and walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Ibanez and Pedro Feliz hit consecutive RBI singles to cut it to 10-5.

Then, three straight batters walked to force in runs. Moylan walked pinch-hitter Matt Stairs. Blaine Boyer (0-1) walked pinch-hitter Chris Coste and Jimmy Rollins. Jorge Campillo replaced Boyer and Shane Victorino singled in
another run to get the Phillies to 10-9. Campillo then walked in Utley to force home the tying run.

Howard’s slow grounder to first base brought in Rollins and gave the Phillies their first lead of the season, 11-10.

“This club, we never feel like we’re out of a game,” Ibanez said. “We certainly felt we can come back if we put good at-bats together.”

Pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett’s sacrifice fly in the eighth provided an important insurance run. Matt Diaz homered off Brad Lidge with one out in the ninth to get the Braves within a run, but Lidge retired the next two batters to end it.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said of the bullpen’s meltdown. “I’ve seen a couple walk-ins, but never like that.”

Clay Condrey (1-0) struck out the only batter he faced to earn the win. Ryan Madson retired the side in the eighth and Lidge earned his 52nd consecutive save, including seven in the postseason and three dating to 2007 with Houston.

During a lengthy pregame ceremony, the Phillies received their championship rings. They are made of 14-karat white gold featuring 103 diamonds totaling 3.84 carats.

Watching the festivities seemed to inspire the Braves. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first for the third straight game and kept piling on.

Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson were late scratches, forcing Cox to juggle his batting order twice. Jones has a bruised left thumb and Anderson tweaked his right calf.

Joe Blanton got roughed up by Atlanta’s makeshift lineup. He gave up seven runs and nine hits in three innings, but avoided losing for the first time since joining the Phillies last July 17. Blanton was 4-0 in 13 starts after Philadelphia got him in a trade with Oakland. He was 1-0 in two postseason starts.

McCann’s two-out shot to right gave Atlanta a 2-0 lead. McCann also hit a two-run homer in the first off Brett Myers on opening night. Ibanez hit Philadelphia’s first homer, connecting in the second to tie it at 2.

Atlanta broke it open with five runs in the third. McCann had an RBI single and Jeff Francoeur drove in two runs with a single. Matt Diaz hit a two-run double to left for a 7-2 lead.

The Phillies’ bullpen was perfect in the first two games, retiring 21 straight batters. J.A. Happ walked the second batter he faced in relief of Blanton and Schafer followed with a two-run shot that made it 9-3. Chad Durbin walked in Atlanta’s 10th run in the seventh.

The Phillies spent the past few days celebrating the franchise’s second World Series title. They raised the championship banner on Sunday night and capped the party with the ring presentation before this game.

“It was nice to celebrate with the fans, but we had to get the first win,” Victorino said.

Led by a motorcycle police escort, the rings arrived in a white van that circled around the warning track. Former general manager Pat Gillick, who retired after last season, was the first to receive his ring. An emotional Gillick cried after team president David Montgomery handed him his ring.

Manuel came next, and he was greeted by chants of “Charlie! Charlie” by the sellout crowd of 44,939 at Citizens Bank Park.

Former Phillies Pat Burrell, Geoff Jenkins and Adam Eaton took part in the ceremony. Burrell got a rousing ovation before heading off to Boston to play a night game for Tampa Bay. Eaton, who was left off the postseason roster, was booed.

Notes: Jones expects to play in Atlanta’s home opener on Friday against Washington. ... Anderson came up as a pinch hitter in the ninth and struck out to end the game. ... Cole Hamels, the World Series and NLCS MVP, is expected to start for the Phillies at Colorado on Friday. Hamels was supposed to pitch the opener, but was pushed back because of minor elbow problems.

Friends to Follow social media