PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes in baseball, everything just seems to go your way. Right now, everything is going the way of right-hander Aaron Harang and the Atlanta Braves.
Harang flirted with disaster on several occasions Sunday, but each time he managed to wiggle his way out en route to seven innings of two-run ball in the Braves’ 3-2 win and four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Harang (7-6), who also singled and scored a run, allowed 11 hits and two walks and didn’t throw a single perfect inning on the afternoon.
“He’s a wily veteran,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Braves center fielder B.J. Upton spotted Harang two early runs with a second-inning triple to deep center. Second baseman Tommy La Stella and catcher Gerald Laird hit back-to-back doubles in the fourth for Atlanta’s third run.
Atlanta (44-38) swept Philadelphia (36-46) in a four-game set for the first time since 1997 and finished its 11-game road trip with an 8-3 record.
The Phillies finished an eight-game homestand 2-6 and now sit eight games back of the Braves in the basement of the National League East.
Philadelphia right fielder Marlon Byrd was the only man to get to Harang, doing so twice on a pair of solo homers — one in the second, one in the fourth. Byrd’s 14th and 15th long balls of the season equaled the first multi-homer game by any Phillies’ player this year.
But with two on and two outs in the fifth, Harang got Byrd to ground out on a first-pitch fastball.
“I knew he was probably gonna try to be aggressive,” Harang said. “I was able to get the fastball down in the zone a little bit and get him to hit it on the ground.”
In the sixth, Harang induced a ground-ball double play off the bat of pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr. with two runners on to retire the side. He did the same thing in the seventh with men on the corners and Atlanta-killer Ryan Howard at the plate.
“You gotta do what you gotta do to get through it,” Harang said. “It all comes down to executing the pitch when you really need it.”
Following in his starter’s footsteps, Craig Kimbrel allowed two singles in the ninth before closing out his 24th save.
The Phillies were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position Sunday and 3-for-32 during the series.
“The last week or so that’s what’s been lacking — a big hit,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “Whether it’s an extra-base hit driving in a couple runs or a popped home run with a couple guys on.”
Phillies pitcher David Buchanan (4-4) gave up three runs and lasted just five innings, plagued by a high pitch count after surrendering a season-high five walks. The young right-hander has issued nine free passes in his last two starts after walking only six in his first six games combined.
“You can’t go out there and walk that many guys and expect to have a good outing,” Buchanan said. “You got guys behind you making good plays, and you can’t leave them out there for that long. It’s not fair to them.”
Atlanta left fielder Justin Upton’s hitting streak ended at seven games. He did, however, make a nice leaping catch at the wall to save a potential run in the third inning.
The Braves’ four-game sweep was also their first in Philadelphia since 1964, when they were based in Milwaukee and the Phillies played at Connie Mack Stadium.
“You can’t ask for more,” Gonzalez said. “We pitched well all series, swung the bats and had some timely hitting.”
NOTES: The Phillies traded INF Ronny Cedeno to the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league C Raywilly Gomez. Cedeno had been outrighted to Triple-A on Saturday. … Atlanta C Evan Gattis sat out for a third straight game with a sore upper back muscle (rhomboid). He is scheduled to have an MRI when the Braves return home Monday. … Philadelphia 2B Chase Utley’s seventh-inning single was career hit No. 1,500 for the 35-year-old. … Prior to the game, Philadelphia designated RHP Sean O’Sullivan for assignment and called up INF Andres Blanco from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. O’Sullivan was promoted as a spot starter for the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader and took the loss. Blanco, who spent time with the Rangers, Cubs and Royals in his career, has not appeared in the majors since 2011.