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Phillies bullpen blows another lead against Braves

The innings waned Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park and for the second straight night, the inevitable became the reality as the Phillies bullpen blew another lead in a 6-4 loss to Atlanta.

The innings waned Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park and for the second straight night, the inevitable became the reality as the Phillies bullpen blew another lead in a 6-4 loss to Atlanta.

The relief corps - one of the National League's most unreliable units - allowed Atlanta to tie the game in the eighth before winning it in in the 10th.

For the second straight night, the Phillies scored four times off the starting pitcher but could not rally against the Braves relievers.

The game was simply waiting for the Phillies bullpen to crack. And it did when the Braves tied the game off Hector Neris in the eighth and scored two runs in the 10th off Edubray Ramos. The rookie loaded the bases with one out and both runs scored on infield grounders to first base. Jeanmar Gomez - who played the goat on Friday night - returned to pitch a scoreless ninth.

The night brought the Phillies bullpen ERA to 4.48 this season and it spoiled a second consecutive strong outing from Vince Velasquez, who struck out eight batters in seven innings without issuing a walk. Velasquez - who will be shut down this month - has allowed just one walk and stuck out 15 in his last 12 innings. He allowed two earned runs Saturday, including a pair of homers by Adonis Garcia.

Maikel Franco went 4 for 4 with three doubles. He stroked two of his hits after working a full count as he seemed to respond to the hitters meeting called in the afternoon by manager Pete Mackanin. Franco doubled to drive in a run in the fifth and started the eight with a double, but the Phillies failed to move him home. His four hits and three doubles tied his career highs.

Cameron Rupp had a two-run double in the third inning, jumping on a first-pitch fastball from Braves rookie John Gant. The Phillies made Gant work - the righthander needed 113 pitches to get through five innings.

The lead was not enough as Neris served up a tying double in the eighth to Ender Inciarte. The run was unearned because the baserunner-Chase d'Arnaud - reached on a walk after Maikel Franco dropped a pop-up in foul territory.

Neris then opted to intentionally walk the lefthanded Freddie Freeman to put runners on first and second with one out. The righthander beared down, getting Matt Kemp to pop up and striking out Nick Markakis. Neris sprinted off the mound, ripped off his Phillies cap, and pounded his chest. There was relief. But that relief - for a second straight night - proved to be shortlived.

mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen www.philly.com/

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