Phils hurt Braves' chances with win in Atlanta

Phils hurt Braves' chances with win in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- There are several things that could happen Sunday in the muddled National League playoff picture, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel couldn't care about any of them.

"Somebody's going down," Manuel said following Saturday's 7-0 victory over the Braves at Turner Field. "There's three teams in there. Somebody's going down, man."

This much is true, but who falls and when might not be decided until Tuesday. That is because the Padres beat the Giants on Saturday, 4-2, to pull into a first-place tie with the Braves in the National League Wild Card race. The Padres also pulled within a game of the Giants for the NL West lead with one game to play.

It looked like a near certainty the Phillies would play the Reds in the NL Division Series, beginning Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, but not anymore.

Here are the scenarios:

• Phillies and Giants win Sunday. The Giants win the NL West. The Padres and Braves tie for the Wild Card and have a one-game tiebreaker Monday at Turner Field. If the Padres win, they play the Phillies in the NLDS. If the Braves win, the Reds play the Phillies in the NLDS.

• Phillies and Padres win. The Braves are eliminated. The Padres and Giants finish with the same record. The Padres would be NL West champions because they won the season series against the Giants. The Giants would be Wild Card champions and play the Phillies in the NLDS.

• Braves and Giants win. The Padres are eliminated. The Giants win the NL West. The Braves win the Wild Card. The Phillies play the Reds in the NLDS.

• Braves and Padres win. The Padres and Giants finish with the same record and play a one-game tiebreaker Monday at PETCO Park in San Diego. The winner is NL West champion. The loser flies to Atlanta for a one-game playoff Tuesday. The winner of the game is Wild Card champion. In that scenario, if the Giants or Padres beat Atlanta on Tuesday, they would play four games in four days in four cities: Sunday in San Francisco, Monday in San Diego, Tuesday in Atlanta and Wednesday in Philadelphia.

Got it?

"If I could pick it, I might care, but at the same time I can't pick it, so there's no sense in me hashing it out and worrying about it," Manuel said.

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels will start Sunday, but he will only pitch two innings. Roy Oswalt is expected to pitch an inning in relief. Phillies closer Brad Lidge also could pitch an inning.

That leaves five innings unaccounted for.

"We've got to suck it up and win a game," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "We have to tomorrow. We have the right guy going [Tim Hudson]."

Hamels said the various postseason scenarios do not make Sunday any more interesting for him.

"No, because I only get to pitch two innings," he said. "I'm just going to try to put up zeroes, get my stuff fine-tuned. That's it."

But how did the Phillies help make this happen Saturday?

Mostly through great pitching. The Phillies started rookie right-hander Vance Worley in place of Roy Halladay, who they rested in preparation for Game 1 of the NLDS.

Worley impressed. He allowed just one hit and two walks in five scoreless innings in the second start of his big league career. In two career starts, Worley is 0-1 with a 1.80 ERA. He has allowed seven hits, two runs, three walks and one home run in 10 innings.

He has struck out eight.

"The young kid, I thought threw very well," Cox said. "He had control and he had stuff."

The Phillies' 21 shutouts this season are tied for fourth in franchise history. They had 25 in 1916, and 22 in both 1908 and 1917.

The offense scuffled until the seventh inning when they scored four runs to take a 4-0 lead. It started when Jimmy Rollins walked and Braves third baseman Brooks Conrad threw a double-play ball into center field to allow pinch-runner Brian Bocock to move to third. Chase Utley singled to right to score Bocock to make it 1-0.

It continued from there.

It could continue until Tuesday before the Phillies know their NLDS opponent.

"We knew they were going to fill the stands, and it was important for them," Phillies right-hander Chad Durbin said of a packed Turner Field crowd that watched the Braves honor Cox before the game. "We know from doing anything competitive, if it's important to the other guy, it's important to you. We have a team full of guys like that. We're going to compete until the last out. That goes for game 162, no matter what the scenario."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.