Message sent: the Braves Sweep the Phillies, take a 2.5 game lead

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Yunel Escobar double play.jpgThe Braves beat the Phillies 2-1 this afternoon behind a stellar outing from Derek Lowe and some timely hitting from Omar Infante, who was subbing for a banged up Chipper Jones.  Lowe gave up one run on six hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts. He was helped by a couple of timely double plays and, as I mentioned earlier today, a little bit of luck too.

Kyle Kendrick was nearly as good, giving up one run in seven innings. Jose Contreras showed that he is mortal, however, walking two (one intentionally) and giving up a two-out RBI single to Omar Infante to drive home the winning run. Or maybe he’s just mortal against the Braves.

The Braves have won eight straight and now have a 2.5 game lead in the NL East as they hop a plane for the west coast.  The Phillies have lost nine of their last 11 and have scored a mere 14 runs in those games.  I suppose there are worse plans than asking Roy Halladay to throw perfect games every time out, but the Phillies need a better one, and fast.

Brewers’ and Dodgers’ benches empty after Manny Machado and Jesús Aguilar get into it

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The Brewers and Dodgers haven’t had much action in Game 4 of the NLCS, bringing a 1-1 game through 10 innings and about four and a half hours. We finally got something to get the blood pumping, though, when Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado and Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar exchanged some words with each other, prompting both teams’ benches to spill onto the field.

With one out, Machado grounded a 3-1, 95 MPH fastball to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who made an easy throw to first base to complete the out. Machado, running the play out, dragged his left leg, slamming it into Aguilar’s leg as he crossed the bag, causing himself to stumble momentarily. Machado went back and jawed at Aguilar like it was his fault.

Machado has not had the best press in the NLCS. He failed to run out a grounder in Game 2, then made a couple of slides in Game 3 that attempted to interfere with Arcia at the second base bag. He was called for interference on the second one. Machado hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt for his actions tonight.

It’s difficult to imagine Machado’s behavior during the NLCS will affect his windfall as a free agent this offseason, but he’s proving to be somewhat of a distraction for a team trying to get back to the World Series. And that’s not good.