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Braves rally to down Phillies

THE Atlanta Braves used an eighth inning rally to beat the spiralling Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Thursday, moving to within two games from first place in the National League East Division.

Matt Diaz hit a go-ahead double to hand a 3-2 lead and Garret Anderson followed with a pinch-hit home run against reliever Ryan Madson, giving Atlanta its fourth straight win and continued success over the defending World Series champions.

"We're right in the middle of it," Diaz said. "I said going into the series, if we win two of three we're right in it, and if we lost two of three we might be out of it. To win all three -- this is big for us."

Atlanta is 7-2 this season against Philadelphia (39-37), which has lost 14 of its last 18 contests to slip back into a tie for the NL East lead with the Florida Marlins.

Philadelphia's J.A. Happ (5-0) stayed sharp since being moved from the bullpen to a starting role, throwing seven innings and striking out five while allowing two runs in the fourth, where the Braves (38-40) took a 2-0 lead on a Casey Kotchman two-run home run.

The Phillies tied the game on RBIs from Greg Dobbs and Pedro Feliz in the sixth but were shutdown late by Atlanta's strong bullpen.

Peter Moylan relieved Braves starter Javier Vazquez in the sixth and allowed just one hit in 1 1/3 innings while Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano nailed down the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

Vazquez entered the contest having lost four of his last five decisions but rebounded with a performance that included 109 pitches over 5 1/3 innings as he struck out five batters. Diaz aided the pitching effort with three hits and two runs as Atlanta swept the Phillies for the first time since 2007.

"It came at a good time," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "You want to be in the hunt, not out of it."

Philadelphia has struggled with offense since slugger Raul Ibanez suffered a groin injury to be sidelined since June 18.

Slumping Jimmy Rollins managed two hits, ending his career-long hitless streak at 28 at-bats.

In San Diego, the Houston Astros beat San Diego 7-2 in a National League game delayed for 52 minutes in the top of the ninth inning when a swarm of bees took over part of left field at Petco Park.

A beekeeper was called to the downtown ballpark and sprayed a chair and a ballgirl's jacket that had attracted the bees. Padres President Tom Garfinkel said a few thousand bees attached themselves to a queen bee.

Elsewhere in NL, it was: Mets 9, Pirates 8, 10 innings; Cubs 9, Brewers 5; Reds 3, Diamondbacks 2, 10 innings; and Cardinals 5, Giants 2.

In the American League, Franklin Gutierrez and Russell Branyan homered as Seattle snapped New York's seven-game winning streak with an 8-4 victory Thursday night.

Ichiro Suzuki hit a two-run double and Chris Woodward added two RBIs as the Mariners handed CC Sabathia his second loss in 11 starts.

Also, it was: White Sox 4, Royals 1; and Angels 5, Orioles 2.


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