Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 7/27/12

The Phillies really needed a win in their series opener Friday in Atlanta. It began a crucial six-game stretch against the Braves and Nationals that could be the final nail in the coffin if the Phils don’t perform well.

Cole Hamels was en route to a solid outing, but he lost his control in the second inning. He should have gotten out of the inning when Ben Sheets grounded the ball to third base, but it went under Mike Fontenot‘s glove. Third base defense has been a major issue in Placido Polanco‘s absence. Polly’s bat is non-existent at this point but when he’s not there, you see how important D is at the hot corner.

Hamels hung tough until the fifth, when Brian McCann hit a three-run homer. It’s the sixth straight game against the Phillies that McCann has homered. He has 16 RBI in those six games.

The Braves tacked on another run in the sixth to win, 6-1.

The Phillies scored their only run in their first two plate appearances of the night. Jimmy Rollins lined a single to right off Sheets (3-0, 0.50 ERA) and Shane Victorino followed with a laced double to right-center.

Rollins and Victorino were 4 for 8 with two doubles and two steals. The rest of the team went 3-for-26 with one extra-base hit.

The loss drops the Phillies to 45-55 and 10.5 games behind the Braves for the second NL wild card spot.

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