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Rain and Braves can’t beat Worley and Phils

It was late October weather, wet and raw, so it seemed appropriate for postseason baseball.

Fans had to wait out a long rain delay before watching the Phillies beat the Braves. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Fans had to wait out a long rain delay before watching the Phillies beat the Braves. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)Read more

It was late October weather, wet and raw, so it seemed appropriate for postseason baseball.

There was another aspect to Tuesday's Phillies-Braves game that channeled late October: They were going to get this game in even if the players had to perform in kayaks. If not, the Phillies would have been burdened with three split doubleheaders and 25 games in the final 22 days of the regular season.

Anyway, the Phillies showed the few thousand hardy folks who waited out an initial 1-hour, 52-minute delay a good time in a long, soggy, but entertaining game at Citizens Bank Park that extended a couple of minutes past midnight.

The Vance Worley magic continued in a 6-3 win that left Atlanta 91/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East. The rookie extended his winning streak to nine straight, holding the Braves to two runs over six innings, one of which was very precarious. It's the longest winning streak of any NL pitcher.

The Phillies have won each of Worley's last 14 starts, the most since they won 15 consecutive starts by Steve Carlton in 1972.

Also, the Phillies set a club record with their fourth consecutive 90-win season. It came in game 138, fastest in club history.

The 23-year-old Worley was teetering on a high wire in the sixth inning, when the Braves loaded the bases with no outs. But after a sacrifice fly by Alex Gonzalez tied the game, 2-2, Worley prevented further damage.

"I just couldn't locate very well," said Worley, who walked two in the sixth. "I tend to make things more difficult for myself, and I always seem to figure it out and slow things down for myself. Even the first inning, I threw a lot of pitches and had to work harder than I need to."

In the first, Worley struck out Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones with two on and one out.

"I don't like to put myself in those situations, but it seems like I find myself in that spot often," he said after improving to 11-1. "I just need to know I have to make a pitch to get myself out of it. What's going to make me a better pitcher is to get strike one and not get myself in jams."

Raul Ibanez had no problem putting the fat part of his bat squarely on the ball. He had three hits and drove in three runs, and Chase Utley hit his first home run in nearly three weeks. Ryan Madson followed a shutout inning by Brad Lidge to get his 28th save.

Ibanez was passed over in the starting lineup Monday even though a righthander started for the Braves. Instead, Manuel had John Mayberry Jr. in left field. Before the game, Manuel offered reasons why nothing much should be read into his decision. The 39-year-old Ibanez had played 14 innings Sunday and recently recovered from a groin strain. Also, Mayberry had some success against Derek Lowe, Monday's starter for the Braves.

If Ibanez continues to hit this way, Manuel will be in a no-lose situation when he fills out the lineup card.

"He swung real good. He's hit much better at home," Manuel said. "This guy works on his hitting all the time. When he's got his swing, he's pretty good. He's gotten some very big hits for us this year."

The difference between Ibanez's hitting home and away is striking. He is batting .292 with 51 RBIs in South Philadelphia and only .197 with 19 RBIs on the road.

Worley wiggled out of some trouble in the fourth. Uggla started it with his 33d homer and 18th since the all-star break, the most in the big leagues. Jones and Freddie Freeman followed with hard-hit singles, and it appeared the Braves were backing Worley into the ropes. Yet he survived.

"He did a good job," Manuel said. "That's basically how he's pitched all year long. He's kept us in games, and we always have a chance to win."

The Braves rode the swift legs of former Phillie Michael Bourn to get a run off Mike Stutes that brought them within 4-3 in the seventh. The Phillies boosted their lead to 6-3 in their half of the inning. Ryan Howard got a thinking-man's RBI, hitting the ball to the right side of the infield to score Shane Victorino. Then Ibanez ripped a run-scoring single for the three-run lead.

In a reversal from the 2008 World Series championship team, Brad Lidge was the setup man for Madson, pitching a scoreless eighth.