ATLANTA - Charlie Manuel kept his faith in Pat Burrell, despite the six-week slump, despite the five strikeouts in five at-bats Tuesday, because he had helped the Phillies get to this point.
They are in first place in the National League East with nine games to play.
"We've been winning, and he's been part of that all year long," Manuel said last night after Burrell hit a game-winning, two-run home run in a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. "I've had him there for four years. Why the hell should I change now?"
The victory preserved the Phillies' half-game lead over the New York Mets. It also extended their winning streak to a season-high seven games, their longest streak since a nine-game roll from April 30 to May 5, 2006.
Burrell's homer - the 250th of his career - broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning.
"It's that time of year," Burrell said. "As a player, this is the time of year you really take pride in. I do."
Burrell entered last night hitting .175 (24 for 137) with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 38 games since Aug. 5. In the major leagues, only Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche had hit worse, with a .161 average.
But perhaps there are signs of life coming from Burrell's bat. It is not enough to declare the slump over, but in his last five games, he is hitting .300 (6 for 20) with two homers and four RBIs.
And that includes his five strikeouts Tuesday.
"It's not a good feeling, but in reality, it's one game," Burrell said. "I've always said that hitting is a confidence thing. It's a feel. At times, it can be pretty complicated. At times, you can make it a lot more complicated than it is. Coming off a game like that, the idea is to put that on the back burner, but sometimes it isn't as easy as it sounds. But the reality is we won that game. We've been playing great."
If Burrell can break out of his funk, it could bode well for the Phillies. Entering last night, Ryan Howard (.393), Jimmy Rollins (.355), Shane Victorino (.333) and Jayson Werth (.291) had been hitting well in September.
If Burrell can keep it up - and if Chase Utley can join the party, too - their offense could be imposing.
The Phillies, who got six quality innings from Cole Hamels (14-9), swept the three-game series against the Braves to finish 9-0 at Turner Field. The Phillies are the first team to win nine consecutive games against the Braves in Atlanta since the franchise moved there in 1966.
They also are the first team to sweep the Braves in a season matchup of at least nine games at home since the Chicago Cubs went 11-0 against the Boston Doves in 1909.
Burrell played a role in the Phils' success.
"I haven't seen anybody here in four years that can take Burrell's spot and produce that many runs," Manuel said.
Burrell proved him right last night.