Burrell lifts Phils to seventh straight

Burrell lifts Phils to seventh straight

ATLANTA -- Pat Burrell struck out five times Tuesday.

Five times, and looked bad doing it. He stroked a single on Wednesday, but not much else. He brought a .180 September average into Thursday's series finale against the Braves.

Not wanting to mess with a six-game winning streak, manager Charlie Manuel kept writing Burrell's name in the lineup, batting fifth behind Ryan Howard. The manager can be loyal that way.

Here's the thing about the streaky slugger: When he catches a pitch -- such as the sixth-inning offering thrown by Atlanta's Mike Hampton -- he can give a team a lead in a hurry.

So there was Burrell rounding the bases after belting a difference-making, two-run homer that lifted Philadelphia to a 4-3 win over the Braves, running the team's streak to a season-high seven games. For one September night, Burrell's struggles seemed insignificant.

"As a player, this is the time of year you really take pride in," Burrell said. "To be able to contribute and win when it counts is big. We're definitely in that situation where we need to win every game, especially now where it appears to be coming down to the last game."

And the unspecial five-K night?

"It's not a good feeling, but the reality is it's one game," he said. "The idea is to put it on the backburner. Sometimes it's not as easy as it sounds. You have to come out and do what you can the next day."

Or, in this case, two days later.

Philadelphia plated two first-inning runs off Mike Hampton, but Phillies starter Cole Hamels allowed a run in the bottom of the first. An inning later, Casey Kotchman tied the game with a homer.

The score remained tied until Burrell deposited a Hampton fastball into the left-field seats. Atlanta got within a run, when a looping liner dropped off Jimmy Rollins' glove for a tough error. Manuel said it was Burrell's ball, but he's not "fast enough to get there."

He made up for it with his bat.

"I know he has trouble on defense, but at the same time, when I look for a right-handed hitter that can [hit home runs], I don't see anyone [else] that can take his position away."

Brad Lidge, who struggled in notching a save Tuesday, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his 38th save on Thursday.

The Phillies went undefeated in Atlanta. Not since 1943, when the Braves franchise played in Boston, had they lost nine home games to an opponent in a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Cardinals took nine that season in going 10-1.

In Atlanta, the Reds went 8-0 at Fulton-County Stadium in 1975. Philadelphia provided a Turner Field first. The last team to take nine in a row on the road versus an opponent was 2006, when Detroit downed Kansas City nine times.

Coupled with Milwaukee's 12-inning loss to the Cubs, the Phillies created some breathing room in playoff picture. The Mets beat Washington, keeping themselves within a half-game of first place in the National League East.

With 10 games remaining in the season, the Phillies appear to be peaking at the right time.

"That's a trend with this team," said Lidge. "With what our hitters can do, the rest of us can just do our part. I think we're better than our record, and I think we're starting to play like that. I really like our chances now."

Added Burrell: "We're a half up. We have to keep going. As much as you watch the other teams and see what they're doing, you have to handle your own business first."

2007 Mets Phillies Mets' Lead 2008 Mets Phillies Mets' Lead
9/1 Won @ ATL, 5-1 Lost @ FLA, 12-6 3 9/1 Won @ MIL, 4-2 Lost @ WSH, 7-4 2
9/2 Won @ ATL, 3-2 Lost @ FLA, 7-6 4 9/2 Won @ MIL, 6-5 Won @ WSH, 4-0 2
9/3 Won @ CIN, 10-4 Lost @ ATL, 5-1 5 9/3 Won @ MIL, 9-2 Lost @ WSH, 9-7 3
9/4 Won @ CIN, 11-7 Won @ ATL, 5-2 5 9/4 Off Off 3
9/5 Lost @ CIN, 7-0 Lost @ ATL, 9-8 5 9/5 Lost vs PHI, 3-0 Won @ NYM, 3-0 2
9/6 Off Off 5 9/6 Rain out Rain out 2
9/7 Won vs HOU, 11-3 Lost vs FLA, 6-3 6 9/7 Split DH with PHI Split DH with NYM 2
9/8 Won vs HOU, 3-1 Won vs FLA, 9-1 6 9/8 Off Won vs FLA, 8-6 1.5
9/9 Won vs HOU, 4-1 Won vs FLA, 8-5 6 9/9 Won vs WSH, 10-8 Lost vs FLA, 10-8 2.5
9/10 Won vs ATL, 3-2 Won vs COL, 6-5 6 9/10 Won vs WSH, 13-10 Lost vs FLA, 7-3 3.5
9/11 Lost vs ATL, 13-5 Lost vs COL, 8-2 6 9/11 Off Won vs MIL, 6-3 3
9/12 Won vs ATL, 4-3 Lost vs COL, 12-0 7 9/12 Rain out Rain out 3
9/13 Off Won vs COL, 12-4 6.5 9/13 Split DH with ATL Won vs MIL, 7-3 2.5
9/14 Lost vs PHI, 3-2 Won @ NYM, 3-2 5.5 9/14 Lost vs ATL, 7-4 Won DH from MIL 1
9/15 Lost vs PHI, 5-3 Won @ NYM, 5-3 4.5 9/15 Lost @ WSH, 7-2 Off 0.5
9/16 Lost vs PHI, 10-6 Won @ NYM, 10-6 3.5 9/16 Lost @ WSH, 1-0 Won vs ATL, 8-7 -0.5
9/17 Lost @ WSH, 12-4 Won @ STL, 13-11 2.5 9/17 Won @ WSH, 9-7 Won @ ATL, 6-1 -0.5
9/18 Lost @ WSH, 9-8 Won @ STL, 7-4 1.5 9/18 Won @ WSH, 7-2 Won @ ATL, 4-3 -0.5
9/19 Won @ WSH, 8-4 Lost @ STL, 2-1 2.5 9/19 @ ATL @ FLA
9/20 Lost @ FLA, 8-7 Won @ WSH, 7-6 1.5 9/20 @ ATL @ FLA
9/21 Won @ FLA, 9-6 Won @ WSH, 6-3 1.5 9/21 @ ATL @ FLA
9/22 Won @ FLA, 7-2 Won @ WSH, 4-1 1.5 9/22 CHC ATL
9/23 Won @ FLA, 7-6 Lost @ WSH, 5-3 2.5 9/23 CHC ATL
9/24 Lost vs WSH, 13-4 Off 2 9/24 CHC ATL
9/25 Lost vs WSH, 10-9 Lost vs ATL, 10-6 2 9/25 CHC Off
9/26 Lost vs WSH, 9-6 Won vs ATL, 5-2 1 9/26 FLA WSH
9/27 Lost vs STL, 3-0 Won vs ATL, 6-4 Tied 9/27 FLA WSH
9/28 Lost vs FLA, 7-4 Won vs WSH, 6-0 -1 9/28 FLA WSH
9/29 Won vs FLA, 13-0 Lost vs WSH, 4-2 Tied        
9/30 Lost vs FLA, 8-1 Won vs WSH, 6-1 -1        

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.