The Phils have been threatening to overtake the Braves lately and last night their 8-7 victory over Florida coupled with the Braves 5-0 loss to the Pirates did the trick. The Phils have a half-game lead over Atlanta, the first time since the end of May the two teams have traded places in the standings.
With the loss, the Braves are now in "first place for fourth place" as my wife likes to describe the Wild Card.
For the second straight night the Phils generated some offense with Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard providing most of the punch. Joe Blanton pitched decently and then watched the bullpen allow the Marlins back into the game. It's always amazing how resilient the Marlins can be given they also always seem to be a team in flux. Of course last night they were aided in their late innings effort by Jayson Werth's bonehead play of the day, throwing wildly behind the runner at third allowing him to score. Later, Charlie Manuel defended Werth while simultaneously acknowledging his decision to throw broke a cardinal rule of the game.
Meanwhile, the Braves have now lost five of six. Before their current series with Pittsburgh everyone was looking at their schedule compared to that of the Phillies and lamenting how much easier it appeared. Don't tell them that! And don't tell the Phils, who have finally managed to crawl back on top albeit by the slimmest of margins.