Braves pitcher Alex Wood threw a complete game Thursday against the Phillies and allowed just eight hits and one run but still picked up the loss. (Reuters)
PHILADELPHIA -- For those who enjoy offense, there was not much to like about the Philadelphia Phillies-Atlanta Braves matchup on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
The two teams combined for just nine hits through the first seven innings as the starting pitchers cruised. And even when the Phillies got some offense, it was only barely enough to squeak out with a 1-0 victory.
The Phillies (7-8) manufactured their run in the bottom of the eighth inning after left fielder Domonic Brown reached on a leadoff single for his first hit of the day. Will Nieves, who started behind the plate in place of Carlos Ruiz, sacrificed Brown to second. Jayson Nix then followed with a strikeout before Ryan Howard drew a pinch-walk with two out.
It was center fielder Ben Revere who finally broke the ice, sending a 0-1 pitch on a rope back up the middle, scoring Brown from second for the only run the Phillies needed.
"It was the same way yesterday, it seemed like, the way it was going," Revere said. "Just went up there, found a good pitch to hit, found a hole and scored a run."
Both teams received stellar performances from their starting pitchers.
Phillies right-hander AJ Burnett battled through a hernia to provide seven innings of three-hit, five-strikeout baseball to lower his ERA to 2.74.
"I've pitched with worse," the 16-year veteran said. "But it's one of those things that I've got to stay on top of, and really focus on my delivery and that was the case today, one pitch at a time."
Alex Wood, a 23-year-old left-hander, gave up the one run in eight innings but took the loss, which evened his record at 2-2 but lowered his ERA to 1.67.
Aside from the one run allowed and a missed sacrifice bunt opportunity in the top of that inning, it was tough to find many flaws in the young pitcher's game.
"He did a terrific, terrific job," Braves manager Freddy Gonzalez said. "You eliminate that eighth inning, both offensively and pitching-wise, he did a terrific job."
It was the second 1-0 game in a row in the series, though it was the Braves who ended up on top the night before.
After a five-run outburst in the eighth inning of a loss to Atlanta on Monday night, the Phillies were held scoreless for 17 innings between Wednesday night's game (Tuesday night was rained out) and the first seven innings on Thursday.
"When you get two back-to-back games that are both 1-0 ... they say hitting is contagious, I think pitching is contagious, too," Gonzalez said. "Two good performances by (Julio) Tehran yesterday and Wood today, (Phillies starter Cliff) Lee yesterday and AJ today."
Phillies reliever Jonathan Papelbon worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save in five opportunities.
Brown was the first baserunner that Philadelphia had in scoring position, with the team managing only five singles to that point. The Phillies' only multi-hit inning before that was the first, but a double play between two singles prevented anything substantial from happening.
The first extra-base hit for either team did not come until the top of the eighth, when Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo gave up a double to Braves catcher Gerald Laird to open the inning. But Bastardo retired the next three batters in order without further damage.
The Phillies now head to the West Coast for a 10-game road swing against the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. Coming off a 3-5 homestand that included two games postponed because of weather, the club needed some positive vibes before the flight to Colorado.
"It was big, it was big to end the homestand on a good note," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It was a little up-and-down for the whole homestand, but to end on a good note and take this one is a big momentum game for us."
The Braves (10-5), who still have a small leg up on the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets in the National League East, head to New York to face the Mets for a three-game series before going home to host the Florida Marlins and Cincinnati Reds for three games apiece.
NOTES: Phillies 2B Chase Utley went 2-for-3 a day after his 11-game hitting streak was snapped. He's now batting .462 through the Phils' first 16 games of the season. ...Braves LHP Alex Wood drew a walk with one out in the third inning. It was his first walk or hit in 31 career plate appearances, though he has one career run scored, when he reached base on a fielder's choice in a game against Philadelphia last Sept. 7. ... The Braves entered play with the best starters' ERA in the league (1.62) and were tied for the lowest opponents' batting average (.204).