Atlanta Braves fall into tie for wild card

Atlanta's Dan Uggla kicks his bat after striking out against Philadelphia during the sixth inning Tuesday night.

Curtis Compton

Phillies 7, Braves 1

ATLANTA — Dan Uggla drop-kicked his bat after striking out on three pitches. Chipper Jones slammed his bat into the dirt after popping up. Derek Lowe just trudged off the mound to another round of boos from the home crowd, wondering how it all went wrong.

The Braves are mad and frustrated heading to the 162nd game.

Their season is on the brink after a potentially historic collapse.

'It's like living out a bad dream,' Jones said.

Lowe had another miserable outing, surrendering five runs in four-plus innings, and the Braves took another step toward giving away a playoff berth that seemed certain just a few weeks ago with an ugly 7-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.

The Braves lost their fourth in a row and eighth in 11 games, sending them to the final day of the regular season tied with the St. Louis Cardinals, who defeated Houston, 13-6.

Chase Utley, Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins homered to back a three-hit outing by Roy Oswalt (9-10).

'We've got one game to play in the month of September, then October comes around and it's a new month,' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. 'There's not a person in that locker room who I wouldn't want to be on my team to play that game.'

'I would hope so,' Jones said, trying to make light of the grim situation. 'We're pretty much all he has anyway.'

Certainly, that team is really, really struggling.

Atlanta, which had an 8½-game lead just three weeks ago, will send its ace to the mound today. Sixteen-game winner Tim Hudson will try to wrap up the wild card or at least force a one-game playoff against Cardinals, which would be Thursday night in St. Louis.

'It is what it is,' Gonzalez said. 'We've played 161 games and it comes down to one. We've done it to ourselves. No excuses there. We've got to go get it tomorrow.'

Lowe (9-17) has been a $15 million bust for the Braves, losing all five of his September starts and drawing the ire of Atlanta fans. They cheered lustily when Gonzalez popped out of the dugout to make a pitching change after Lowe gave up a leadoff single in the fifth, then heckled the high-priced right-hander as he trudged to the dugout.

'When you're 9-17 with a (5.05) ERA, come on, there's really nothing you can say to sugarcoat it,' Lowe said. 'I'm man enough to say I've had a terrible year. But we've still got a chance. Our best pitcher is going tomorrow. This isn't about me. This is about this organization and how much hard work these guys have put in this season.'

The Phillies, winning their 101st game of the season, jumped ahead on the eighth pitch of the game. Lowe served up one to Utley, who drove it into center-field seats for his 11th homer. An uneasy feeling settled over Turner Field. It would only get worse.

The Phillies extended the lead to 3-0 in the third on Rollins' run-scoring and Pence's sacrifice fly, the inning helped along by Lowe's ill-advised decision to try to get the lead runner at third on Oswalt's sacrifice. Carlos Ruiz beat the throw and everyone was safe.

The advantage grew to 4-0 in the fourth when two singles set up another sacrifice fly, this one by Placido Polanco.

Philadelphia finished off Lowe in the fifth. When Rollins led off with a single, rookie Arodys Vizcaino was summoned from the bullpen. But the youngster gave up a towering two-run homer to Pence, his 22nd, that turned the game into a full-fledged rout.

Rollins added his 16th homer in the seventh off another Braves rookie, Julio Teheran.