As it turned out, Atlanta’s bats were not the problem.
Aaron Harang gave up 13 of Philadelphia’s season-high 18 hits as Atlanta pitchers were battered in a 10-5 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday.
The Phillies’ three-game sweep knocked the Braves out of first place in the NL East, just in time for a visit to first-place Washington.
“We’re going to go into D.C. with a little bit of a chip on our shoulders,” said Ryan Doumit, who had three hits, including a homer, and drove in three runs in a rare start in left field.
“This wasn’t a good series. It left a bad taste in our mouths, but we’re going to go take it out on the Nationals.”
Atlanta has lost eight of 12.
Rookie Tommy La Stella was 0-for-4 with a walk in his first game hitting leadoff. Jason Heyward, who had hit leadoff in all but two games this season, moved to the No. 5 spot in a switch Gonzalez said may be more than a one-game experiment.
Gonzalez gave days off to outfielders B.J. Upton and Justin Upton and shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Justin Upton left Tuesday night’s game with dizziness.
Gonzalez said before the game that giving starters a break “usually turns out pretty good.”
Doumit took advantage of his opportunity and fill-in shortstop Ramiro Pena had one hit.
Evan Gattis hit a two-run homer in Atlanta’s four-run first inning off Roberto Hernandez (3-5).
“I thought we swung the bats well,” Gonzalez said. “We were knocking on the door there almost the entire game trying to get back in it, which is a good sign.”
Harang (5-6) allowed nine runs — eight earned — in five innings.
“Definitely didn’t feel as sharp as I have been in the past,” Harang said. “All it would have taken was one pitch here and there. ... There were some balls hit that were just finding spots to drop in.
“They seemed to be all over my breaking pitches, too. I was just trying to hang in there to give the bullpen a little bit of a rest.”
Five Phillies had three hits.
Ryan Howard capped a big series by driving in two runs with three hits for the Phillies. Former Sprayberry High School star Marlon Byrd drove in three runs with three hits, including a homer.
Howard, who hit homers in each of the first two games of the series, drove in a run with a double in the Phillies’ five-run second inning. He added a run-scoring single in the fifth. He had five hits, four walks and six RBIs in the series.
Howard has 46 career homers against Atlanta, more than against any other team. His 20 homers at Turner Field are his high mark for any road stadium.
Asked what made the difference for Howard in the series, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said “Possibly just some confidence.”
“This is a place he’s hit well so maybe it brought back some positive thoughts,” Sandberg said.
Trailing 4-2, the Phillies scored five runs in the second on six straight two-out hits, including a two-run single by John Mayberry Jr., who had three RBIs.
Shortstop Cesar Hernandez, batting leadoff for the first time this season, had three hits and scored two runs. Domonic Brown and Will Nieves also had three hits. Nieves left the game with what Sandberg said appeared to be a quadriceps injury.
NOTES: Braves LHP Jonny Venters was given a platelet-rich plasma injection in his surgically repaired left elbow. He is trying to come back from his second Tommy John surgery on May 16, 2013, and will rest the elbow for about five weeks. ... Braves RHP Gavin Floyd faces Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann to open a four-game series tonight. ... The Phillies open a four-game series at St. Louis with David Buchanan opposing Shelby Miller in a matchup of right-handers.