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PHI@ATL: Hudson strikes out five over 5 2/3 innings

ATLANTA -- This year's Phillies team may be 12 games under .500 and in last place in the National League East, but for the Braves, they are still the Phillies, who had a .622 winning percentage at Turner Field from 2007-11 when they won five consecutive division titles.

With that recent run of futility in mind, the Braves' 6-2 victory Sunday in front of 23,726 fans at Turner Field to finish off a three-game sweep meant something more than three wins against a last-place team typically would. This weekend's sweep, combined with a three-game sweep three weeks ago in Philadelphia, marks the first time Atlanta has swept Philadelphia twice in the same season since 2000.

The sweep was the statement the Braves wanted to start their 10-game homestand, which includes seven games against the fourth- and fifth-place teams in the division.

"This was a big, big, big sweep for us," Chipper Jones said. "We wanted to get this homestand kicked off on a good start. We're playing good baseball and we feel like we should be able to dominate this homestand."

So far, they have. The Braves trailed for just one inning the entire series -- the first inning Friday night. They outscored the Phillies 14-4 and beat Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay. In the process, they may have buried the Phillies, who are now 12 1/2 games behind the Braves for the second Wild Card spot.

To a man, the Braves said they didn't take the Phillies lightly, no matter what their record is, and were thrilled to finish off their second sweep of them in three weeks.

"They're in our division and a very good team at that, regardless of whether they're going well or not," Jason Heyward said. "We can't take it easy on them, because they're not going to take it easy on us."

Heyward got the Braves off to a good start in the first inning. After Halladay retired the first two batters of the game, Heyward hit the first pitch he saw from the two-time Cy Young Award winner over the right-field wall for a solo home run. It was Heyward's 16th blast of the season, two shy of the career high he set as a rookie in 2010.

The Braves added another two-out run as Jones followed with a single and scored on an RBI double from Dan Uggla. The hit snapped his 0-for-21 slump and gave Uggla his first RBI since July 13.

Jones extended the Braves' lead to three runs with a solo home run to lead off the third inning, his 10th of the year. The home run moved Jones into second place on the all-time list of extra-base hits by a switch-hitter with 1,042.

After getting staked to a three-run lead, right-hander Tim Hudson kept the Phillies' offense in check. He allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings and struck out five batters.

Hudson said the lead allowed him to be aggressive in the strike zone and attack Philadelphia's lineup with confidence

"The guys are playing with confidence right now," Hudson said. "As a starting pitcher, you have to realize that and try to keep the pressure off of them. The way to do that is to put up zeros after [your team] scores."

Shane Victorino helped the Phillies climb back into the game with a solo home run to lead off the fourth inning and another run in the sixth inning, but the Braves were able to keep the visitors at bay long enough to chase Halladay after six innings.

Atlanta added three runs off reliever Jake Diekman in the seventh to give itself breathing room and ensure the victory.

With seven more games left in the homestand against the Marlins and Astros, two teams well under .500, the Braves know this is a chance to build a cushion as the pennant race heats up. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said "it's scoreboard watching time" and Jones said he'd "be disappointed with anything less than 8-2" on the homestand.

Heyward said Atlanta just needs to keep pushing toward its goal of winning the division. To do that, he said, the Braves simply need to keep their hot streak going as long as possible.

"Don't stop. You don't ever want to stop," Heyward said. "You want to keep it going, you want to keep winning. It's the second half. We want to keep pushing for as many wins as possible."

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