Philadelphia’s sluggish start has an all too familiar feel for Phillies fans.
Chuck James pitched five solid innings, Kelly Johnson hit a two-run homer and the Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep of Philadelphia with an 8-4 victory on Thursday.
When Jimmy Rollins boldly proclaimed in January that the Phillies should be favorites to win the division, the three-time All-Star shortstop certainly didn’t expect an 0-3 start at home.
Meanwhile, the Braves are 3-0 for the first time since opening with seven straight wins in 1994.
“We’ll be OK,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “It’s just a matter of us putting a good game together.”
In other NL games, it was: Cincinnati 5, Chicago Cubs 2; Arizona 4, Washington 3; and San Francisco 5, San Diego 3.
Adam Eaton (0-1) was roughed up in his first start since signing a $24.5 million, three-year contract with the Phillies, who selected him in the first round of the 1996 amateur draft and traded him to San Diego four years later. The right-hander allowed eight runs – seven earned – and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.
James (1-0) gave up one run and six hits, striking out five. Rafael Soriano got one out for his first save with the Braves.
“It’s enormous for us to get off to a good start,” Johnson said. “Everyone’s been looking at the Mets and Phillies so it’s good to set a tone.”
The Phillies, who were swept by St. Louis in a season-opening three-game series at home last year, entered this season with high expectations after falling short of the NL wild-card berth in the final weekend the last two years. They were hoping for a strong start after going 10-14 each of the past two Aprils.
Instead, they’re already three games behind the Mets and Braves with six games upcoming at Florida and New York.
“Are we pressing? I think it’s too early for that,” Eaton said. “We’re looking forward to a good season. I don’t think three games is going to make or break us.”
Giants 5, Padres 3
At San Francisco, Barry Bonds had an RBI double, Ray Durham hit a go-ahead two-run single after a walk to Bonds in the decisive fifth, and Matt Morris pitched six strong innings for the Giants.
Bruce Bochy beat his old team for his first win as Giants manager, and San Francisco avoided losing its first three games for only the fifth time since the team moved west from New York in 1958.
Josh Bard hit a two-out, two-run single in the ninth for the Padres but Armando Benitez got Mike Cameron to pop out with runners on first and second for his first save.
Morris (1-0) allowed one run and five hits.
Clay Hensley (0-1) allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings.
Reds 5, Cubs 2
At Cincinnati, Michael Barrett’s passed ball let in the tiebreaking run in the seventh as the Reds took two of three in their opening series.
Bob Howry (0-1) gave up pinch-hitter Jeff Conine’s single that tied it with two outs in the seventh, then walked Ryan Freel. Will Ohman came on and threw a wild pitch with Adam Dunn at the plate. Barrett then compounded the mistake by letting a low, sinking pitch deflect off the end of his mitt and skitter to the backstop. Scott Hatteberg added a two-run homer in the eighth off Scott Eyre.
Victor Santos (1-0) pitched out of a threat in the seventh, and David Weathers got three outs for his first save.
Diamondbacks 4, Nationals 3
Chris Young hit a two-run single in the first inning and Orlando Hudson homered in the third to help visiting Arizona get the win.
The Diamondbacks had a 4-0 lead by the third inning, and Edgar Gonzalez (1-0) and four relievers made it stand up.
Jason Bergmann (0-1) departed after allowing four runs in 3 2-3 innings – which actually lowered the ERA of Washington’s starters from 11.37 to 11.02.
Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in two chances.
Dmitri Young homered for the Nationals.
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