Not a magic night for Phils

Might want to hold off on that talk of the Phillies and their magic number.

The Phils showed little magic last night, instead ham-handedly handing a game to the Atlanta Braves.

The Phils lost, 3-2, while the Mets were winning. That slices the Phils lead in the National League East to a game and a half. Both teams have four games left in the regular season.

The Phils magic number did not budge. It remains 3 to clinch a playoff spot via the Wild Card; 4 to win the National League East.

The Phils were their own worst enemy last night – both in the field and on the bases. This team’s occasional butchering of some of the basics came back to haunt them.

After the team rallied to tie the game at 1 in the second, starter Cole Hamels, who did not have his best stuff, handed the lead right back to the Braves. Hamels’ worst throw on the night was not to the plate. Instead it was botched pickoff that allowed the Braves to take a 2-1 lead.

The base-running gaffes sunk the Phils’ hopes in the sixth. Pat Burrell was looking like a hero again after he doubled home Ryan Howard with a shot to the base of the wall. The glow didn’t last long, and Burrell was soon being fitted for goat horns.

Shane Victorino hit a hard ground ball to short. For some reason, Burrell broke for third. He was dead and was tagged out after a rundown. Victorino didn’t escape unscathed either. It first appeared as if he was bunting to move to Burrell to third, but he didn’t connect. Then he swung away, and failed to hit behind the runner. That still doesn’t explain why Burrell broke for third on a play that was in front of him, not behind, which is the usual base-running rule. Victorino then finished off the inning by getting thrown out trying to steal second.

Not a great display of the basics.

Still, the Phils remain in the driver’s seat. They’d probably love to wrap this thing up before the weekend, and possibly be able to rest Brett Myers and Hamels for playoff starts.

To do that they’ll have to play a lot better than they did last night.