ATLANTA – Jorge Sosa overcame a career-high six walks to pitch 6 2-3 shutout innings and push the Atlanta Braves closer to their 14th straight division title with a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies lost ground on two fronts, falling six games behind the Braves in the NL East and two games behind Houston in the wild-card race. The Astros beat Pittsburgh 7-4.

Atlanta, on the other hand, reduced to six its magic number for adding another division title to a streak that began in 1991.

Sosa (13-3), acquired from Tampa Bay during spring training in a seemingly minor deal for infielder Nick Green, has been a major contributor to the Braves’ success. The right-hander won for the fifth time in six starts, solidifying a spot in Atlanta’s possible postseason rotation.

Sosa surrendered only two hits before giving way to Macay McBride, who struck out Jason Michaels to end a seventh-inning threat.

Chris Reitsma pitched a scoreless eighth, and Kyle Farnsworth allowed a run-scoring single to Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the ninth. The 1/4 had only three hits.

Sosa, who entered the season with a career record of 11-26, has as many wins this year as Tim Hudson, the Braves’ big acquisition during last offseason, and is only one win behind All-Star John Smoltz. Sosa lowered his ERA to 2.45.

Rafael Furcal had three hits, scored twice, drove in a run and picked up his career-high 43rd stolen base.

Andruw Jones added to his NL lead with his 126th RBI, while Chipper Jones came on as a pinch hitter in the sixth to draw a walk with the bases loaded; he was a little late getting to the park because his wife delivered the couple’s third child earlier in the day.

Sosa didn’t allow a hit until David Bell’s one-out single in the fifth and went on to beat the Phillies for the second time in six days, following up a 6-4 win in Philadelphia last week.

Sosa pitched out of a major jam in the sixth. Kenny Lofton doubled with one out, and walks to Chase Utley and Bobby Abreu loaded the bases.

But Pat Burrell took a called third strike, and Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche ended the threat with a nifty grab along the line, running to the bag himself to retire Ryan Howard.

Sosa dodged more trouble in the seventh. With one on, Rollins hit a towering drive down the right-field line, but the ball hooked right of the pole by about 3 feet – just missing a tying two-run homer.

Rollins walked on the next pitch, Sosa’s season-high 115th of the night. It was his last, as manager Bobby Cox called in McBride. Sosa walked off the mound to a standing ovation, twirling his hat to the crowd.

McBride struck out pinch-hitter Michaels on a disputed checked swing, and the Braves doubled their lead with two runs in the bottom half.

Cory Lidle (11-11) lasted 5 2-3 innings, giving up five hits and two runs. He also was making his second straight start against the same opponent, having picked up the win in a 12-4 rout of the Braves last week.

Notes: Sosa, who started the season in the bullpen, improved to 10-3 in 18 starts. … Furcal tied Otis Nixon’s Atlanta record for most stolen bases in a season. … Lidle lost to the Braves for the first time in five career decisions. … The Phillies took no chances with MVP candidate Andruw Jones, walking him twice intentionally. … Sosa had walked five in a game five times, most recently on Aug. 5, 2004, while pitching for Tampa Bay against Oakland.


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