ATLANTA -- When Ryan Howard makes contact, the ball usually goes a long way. That is exactly what happend on Wednesday, as Howard belted a three-run homer that helped the Philadelphia Phillies deal the Atlanta Braves a 7-3 loss.
The Braves were held off the board over the first four innings by Phillies starter Adam Eaton (3-6). Ruben Gotay came off the bench to belt a pinch-hit homer in the fifth, one of the few mistakes made by Eaton on the night. Atlanta managed two runs on five hits, despite five walks by Eaton in his five innings of work.
Jorge Campillo (3-3) could not find his usual groove against Philadelphia, surrending homers to Howard and Pat Burrell in allowing five runs in five innings of work.
"They have good hitters, so everybody has a plan," said Campillo, who was making his second start of the season against Philadelphia and his fourth appearance against them overall.
Howard struck the big blow with a three-run homer in the third that opened up a 4-0 Philadelphia advantage. It was Howard's only hit in four trips to the plate. Pat Burrell added his second homer in as many days in the fifth to put the lid on Campillo's day.
"That's what he does, he hits home runs," said Braves catcher Brian McCann of Howard's blast in the third inning. "Tonight he got them out to an early lead, and we tried to climb back but we just fell short."
An eighth inning homer by Chipper Jones, his 17th of the season and his lone hit in the game, cut the Philadelphia lead to 5-3.
For the second night in a row that the Phillies pushed a late run across against Blaine Boyer, who stayed in to starter the ninth inning after a scoreless eighth. Boyer issued a lead-off walk to pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett which proved costly.
Jimmy Rollins tripled off Royce Ring to bring in Bruntlett and then scored on a Chase Utley single to make it a 7-3 game.
"It's hard to catch up," said Braves manager Bobby Cox. "We've let [runs] in the last two nights in the ninth. Three last night and two tonight spreads it out a little too much for us."
Even with the four run lead, Phillies closer Brad Lidge had to battle through an interesting ninth. A single by Greg Norton and a pair of errors by Howard allowed Atlanta to load the bases with two men away. Lidge went on to retire Mark Teixeira on strikes to preserve the win.
"It's a rough time around here right now," said Jones. "Alot of guys are struggling, especially with runners on base. No one is excluded. It's everybody."
Jones underscored the frustrations that the Braves offense has suffered against the Phillies this season, in losing seven of eight contests. Atlanta has managed just a .183 average with runners on base against Philadelphia this season, while the Phillies have hit at a .328 clip in those situations.
The month of June saw every team in the National League East taking it on the chin. Despite their 11-16 month, the Braves lost just two games in the standings to the front running Phillies. Consecutive losses in the first to games of this series has widened the gap between the first place Phillies and fourth place Braves to six games.
"We have to start winning these games," said McCann. "If we don't then we're not going to make the post season. We have to start winning these games against our division opponents."
On Deck: The Braves send Jair Jurrjens to the mound in hopes of reversing their fortunes of late against the Phillies. He will be opposed by lefty Cole Hamels of Philadelphia. Game time is set for 7:10 PM EST