Brian McCann starred at the plate for the Braves, belting a solo homer that held up until Atlanta's bats exploded in the ninth. His second homer of the night, a grand slam off Phillies stopper Brad Lidge, gave the Braves all they would need to cruise to victory in the opener of a decisive three-game set.
Lidge came into the contest having not surrendered a home run this season, but was unable to record an out and yielded the McCann slam amoung five runs allowed. Atlanta pushed two more runs across against Clay Condrey to make it an 8-0 game.
Braves starter Jair Jurrjens (10-5) was superb over eight shut-out innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out six. His 10 wins lead all Major League rookies.
Jurrjens turned in a spectacular defensive play to end the eighth inning, deflecting a head-high line drive off the bat of a Jayson Werth and recoving with a strong throw to get the out at first.
McCann's solo-homer in the fourth inning made a loser of Kyle Kendrick (8-5) despite his quality start. It was the only run Kendrick would allow on the night, as he scattered seven hits, walking two and striking out two.
The only Philadelphia offense of the night came in the form of a two-run homer by Ryan Howard in the bottom of the ninth.
Atlanta gained instant ground on the second place Phillies, who had swept the Braves in each of the last two three game sets. With the New York Mets defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, the Braves remain six and a half games out of first.
On Deck: Mike Hampton is slated to make his long-awaited 2008 debut as the Braves and Phillies battle again on Saturday. Philadelphia will counter with left-hander Cole Hamels. Game time is set for 3:55 PM EST.