PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies started their key NL East series by splitting two close, dramatic games.
The third one was a no-doubter, sending the five-time defending division champs into the All-Star break on a high note.
The Braves were shut down again by Philadelphia's dominant starting pitching, and the Phillies set a season high with 20 hits in a 14-1 victory on Sunday.
Atlanta (54-38) fell 3 1/2 games back in the division, but remained optimistic about its chances of catching Philadelphia in the second half.
``I think we're pleased where we are,' Atlanta catcher Brian McCann said. ``They haven't dominated us. We know we can play with them. They're a great team and so are we.'
Cole Hamels (11-4) limited the Braves to one run and three hits in eight innings, following fellow All-Stars Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee with another strong peformance. Halladay pitched seven innings of two-run ball in the Phillies' 3-2 win in 10 innings in the series opener, and Lee gave up one run in eight innings Saturday night but the Braves won 4-1 in 11.
``The first two were great games,' Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``This one, just forget about it.'
Hamels, who was selected to his second All-Star team but won't pitch due to Sunday's start, allowed just one hit after the second inning and retired his final 13 batters.
While Hamels was cruising, the Phillies got to Derek Lowe for four runs and 10 hits in six innings and tagged reliever Cory Gearrin for six runs in one-third of an inning.
``They're a good team,' Lowe said. ``Sometimes you have to say you got your butt beat.'
Dan Uggla doubled and scored for the Braves, who had won nine of 10 entering the series.
``It should be fun over the next couple of months,' Lowe said. ``I think both teams will be right there.'
Gonzalez only wishes the Braves could start their chase on Monday.
``The only thing that bothers me is we don't play tomorrow,' Gonzalez said. ``So we'll have a bad taste in our mouth until we come back.'
Raul Ibanez homered and drove in six runs for Philadelphia, which had 17 hits in the first two games of the series. John Mayberry Jr. had three doubles and drove in a career-high four runs, and Michael Martinez, filling in for injured All-Star third baseman Placido Polanco, added four hits.
Philadelphia led 4-1 before breaking the game open in the seventh with six runs on five hits and two walks. All of the runs were charged to Gearrin.
The crowd of 45,853, the 172nd sellout and third-largest in Citizens Bank Park history, did the Tomahawk Chop in the inning in mock imitation of Braves fans at Turner Field.
Philadelphia added four more runs in the eighth, highlighted by Ibanez's three-run drive to right off Scott Proctor.
``This was a big series for us to win, it's going to help our team,' Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. ``I think it helps us more than it hurts them. I know their team. They're going to come back the second half and try to prove they're better than we are. That's baseball and it should be that way.'
NOTES: The Phillies and Braves are the only major league clubs not to have been swept in a three-game series this season. ... The Phillies' previous best offensive output was 18 hits at Florida on July 5. ... Polanco missed his sixth straight game with a back injury. ... Atlanta's Brandon Hicks struck out pinch-hitting in the seventh and has one hit in his last 21 at_bats. ... The Phillies optioned reliever Scott Mathieson to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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