ATLANTA — Fredi Gonzalez isn’t concerned about another September collapse. The Braves manager is worried about his offense.
Atlanta turned in another feeble offensive performance, held scoreless over seven innings by Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee in a 5-1 loss to the Phillies on Saturday.
“We’re just not swinging the bats at all,” said Gonzalez, whose team has scored only 10 runs in the past five games. “It’s easy to say the pitchers are better than us, but enough of that.”
Jimmy Rollins hit his 16th homer for the Phillies, who got off to a good September start after a strong August.
The wild card-leading Braves are heading in the opposite direction with three straight losses and only four wins in their past 14 games, rekindling memories of their historic meltdown last season.
Gonzalez hinted that he may shake up the lineup, pointing to the call-up of speedy Jose Constanza and Lyle Overbay from the minors and Friday’s acquisition of Jeff Baker from Detroit.
“We’ve got to get something going offensively to compete,” the manager said. “We’re at a point now where our pitchers give up two or three runs, and it’s a good chance they’re going to lose. It’s not fair to them.”
Lee (4-7) came in with a record that was hardly indicative of the way he’s pitched this season. The Phillies had been held to three runs or fewer in 14 of his 23 starts. A little offensive support was all he needed.
The Phillies jumped on Tim Hudson (13-5) right away, going ahead in the first and blowing the game open with two runs in the sixth. Lee was on cruise control the whole way.
Lee left the game for precautionary reasons after his left hamstring cramped on a sweltering day.
Hudson took his first loss since July 1, snapping a streak of seven straight wins. He gave up nine hits, walked three and was charged with all five Phillies runs.
“I just wasn’t very good today,” he said. “That’s probably the worst stuff I’ve had all year. It was a battle all the way.”
Rollins led off the game with a single. After Juan Pierre hit into a forceout and Chase Utley flied out, Ryan Howard and John Mayberry came through with two-out singles, the second of which brought home the first run. Rollins led off the third with a homer off the right-field foul pole, making it 2-0, and Philadelphia extended its advantage in the fifth.
The Phillies started the sixth with three straight singles off Hudson, loading the bases. Lee worked the count full, fouled off a 3-2 pitch, then took a pitch that was just off the inside corner to force in a run. That was it for Hudson, who glared at plate umpire Angel Hernandez as he trudged slowly toward the dugout.
The Braves avoided a shutout on Martin Prado’s ninth homer off B.J. Rosenberg in the eighth. That was of little consolation to a team that seemingly had a comfortable September lead in the wild-card race a year ago, only to be edged by St. Louis on the final day of the season.
Atlanta came into Saturday leading the Cardinals by three games for the first NL wild-card spot, with Pittsburgh only 3½ games behind the Braves.