After being forced to leave his previous start because of a hernia-related injury, A.J. Burnett knew he had to be careful during his next bullpen session, making sure he didn't overstride and do any more damage.
The veteran righthander tried a shorter stride and it worked. He employed the revamped move Thursday against the Atlanta Braves and it led to his best outing as a Phillie.
Burnett kept the Braves off the scoreboard, allowing three hits over seven innings. Although he didn't figure in the decision at Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies picked up a 1-0 victory on Ben Revere's RBI single in the eighth, he played a key role as his team took its lone win over the NL East leaders in this series.
"It's going to be a blessing in disguise, I think," said Burnett, who left in the fifth inning of last Friday's game against Miami when he suffered what was later diagnosed as a small inguinal (lower abdominal) hernia.
"It's always going to be there, but it helps me stay within myself. A couple of pitches I tried to do too much, you could tell it wasn't right. But every time I was simple and just nice and easy . . . I was able to make effective pitches."
Burnett was sharp, getting 13 of his 21 outs on ground balls, mostly on sinkers to righthanded hitters. The Braves' only threat came in the third, but, with runners on first and third, Burnett got Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the inning.
"It's just one of those things I've got to stay on top of, and really focus on my delivery, and that was the case today," he said.
Burnett's start, coming after Cliff Lee's complete-game, 13-strikeout outing the night before in a 1-0 loss, was encouraging to manager Ryne Sandberg.
"It might be a blessing in disguise," Sandberg said of Burnett's shorter stride. "That's what he talked to me about, how well his bullpen went when he decided he'd be good to go today. So he was geared up and ready to go.
"He looked more effortless out there with the shorter stride and better command with that. So it could be a good thing."
The Phillies got their share of hits against Braves lefthander Alex Wood, but couldn't find a way to keep the runners on base. The Braves turned three double plays and Revere was picked off first to end the sixth after he reached on a bunt single.
But matters turned the Phillies' way in the eighth. Domonic Brown led off with a single and Wil Nieves sacrificed him to second, the first time a Phillie reached second in the game.
After Jayson Nix struck out, pinch-hitter Ryan Howard walked, then Revere delivered his third hit of the game, a solid line single to center. Brown easily beat the throw home by centerfielder B.J. Upton.
Revere figured that Howard would drive in the run, but he benefited by studying Wood's pattern during Howard's at-bat.
"The whole time I was just thinking, 'Get that run in,' " he said. "He got that walk and I had a feeling [Wood] was going to throw the same way he threw Howard, which was all breaking balls. That's the way a good team goes. Each and every day you know it's going to be a different guy."
Antonio Bastardo (2-1) pitched through a leadoff double in the eighth and got the win. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to end the game, and earned his fourth save.