ATLANTA (AP) — Ryan Howard decided he wanted to join his Phillies teammates for the final series of the season against the Braves. There wasn't much to see in the opener.
Rookie Tyler Cloyd (2-7) continued his September struggles by giving up seven runs in one-plus inning and the Phillies lost for the seventh time in eight games, 7-1.
Howard, who has been rehabbing his injured left knee in Clearwater, Fla., said it was important to him to finish the season with his teammates, even if he couldn't play.
"I just wanted to watch and cheer these guys on the rest of the way and hopefully try to end things on a good note and head into 2014 on a high," Howard said.
Cloyd had given up 17 runs in 13 innings in his previous three September starts, and the right-hander did not see a turnaround against the Braves. Cloyd gave up seven runs on eight hits and did not retire any of the first four batters in the second inning before being pulled.
"It was just bad. I wasn't executing any pitches and they were hitting the ball hard," Cloyd said. "I wouldn't say nothing was working, but everything was where they could hit it."
The decisive first began with Jason Heyward's home run on Cloyd's first pitch of the night. Elliot Johnson followed with a single, and Freddie Freeman doubled him home. Gattis then hit an RBI single, and scored on Chris Johnson's double. Jordan Schafer brought in the final run of the inning with an RBI single.
Gattis ended Cloyd's night with a two-run double in the second that scored Heyward and Elliot Johnson.
"Cloyd had a hard time with his first-pitch strikes and also had trouble with two strikes," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "They were still able to barrel balls up pretty good and before you know it, it was 7-0."
Jimmy Rollins went 3 for 4 for the Phillies. Heyward was the offensive star for the Braves with a career-high five hits, including three doubles in addition to his leadoff home run.
The win pulled the Braves even with the idle Cardinals at 94-65 for the best record in the National League with three games to play. The Braves won the season-series against the Cardinals and would win the NL's No. 1 seed if the teams finish tied.