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PHI@ATL: Kendrick throws seven scoreless innings

ATLANTA -- Kyle Kendrick is nearing the end of a disappointing season, but he still hopes to salvage something from it.

He made a move in that direction Tuesday with his finest performance of the year in a 4-0 victory over the Braves at Turner Field, which was the Phillies' 10th victory in their last 14 games. He allowed three hits, two walks and struck out four in seven innings. It was the first time he had thrown seven or more scoreless innings in a start since April 26, 2013, when he shut out the Mets.

It was the second consecutive shutout for the Phillies, who no-hit the Braves on Monday. It was the first time the Phillies threw consecutive shutouts since Aug. 13-14, 2012, when Cole Hamels threw one on the 13th and Kendrick, Josh Lindblom and Jonathan Papelbon combined for one on the 14th.

"That was his best game by far," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about Kendrick's effort on Tuesday.

Kendrick is slated to make four more starts before the end of the year. They could be his final four in a Phillies uniform.

He will be a free agent following the season, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said this week he expects considerable changes to the roster before Spring Training. Kendrick could be a casualty. He has been with the Phillies since 2007.

Kendrick hopes to make the most of it.

"The season's not over, definitely," Kendrick said. "I've got four starts to finish strong. Shoot, finish on a good note and put myself in a good position. You want to finish healthy, that's the main thing. But try to take one start at a time and put up quality starts."

Perhaps the first sign Kendrick would be OK on Tuesday was a scoreless first inning. The first has been a struggle for him this season.

He had allowed a Major League-leading 33 runs in the first, which is tied for second most in franchise history (Jim Bunning allowed 36 in 1970). Kendrick's 10.00 ERA in the first also led baseball and ranked first in franchise history among pitchers with 20 or more starts.

Kendrick allowed a leadoff double to Jason Heyward, then walked Freddie Freeman and hit Justin Upton with a pitch -- Upton eventually left the game with a bruised left triceps -- to load the bases with one out. But Kendrick struck out Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson to end the inning.

"Obviously, my first innings this year haven't been great," Kendrick said. "That's part of the reason why my ERA isn't that great. The first inning has been a little bit of a struggle this year. I've just got to keep battling until the end."

Kendrick settled after that against an offense that has scored just one run in its past four games. He faced the minimum of 14 batters from Gattis' strikeout in the first to Braves starter Mike Minor's popout to end the fifth.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Carlos Ruiz hit a 1-0 fastball for a solo home run to left field. It was Ruiz's fifth homer of the season.

They built a 2-0 lead in the sixth when Ben Revere singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He scored when Darin Ruf ripped a single to right field. Ruf is batting .429 (12-for-28) with two doubles, two home runs and four RBIs in 12 games since Aug. 10, although he continues to be played sparingly.

"He's been consistent in that role," Sandberg said. "He's sat for some games and comes up with quality games. Impressive."

Tuesday was Ruf's first start since Aug. 26 and second since Aug. 20. Sandberg remained noncommittal regarding Ruf's playing time.

"I make out the lineups," Sandberg said. "We've got more guys now. It's good that we've got some guys that are resting and not in the lineup and playing well. That's good for late-inning situations. That's a good problem."

Minor was charged with three runs over 7 1/3 innings, with Ruiz adding an RBI double and Maikel Franco driving in his first career run with a sacrifice fly in a two-run eighth.

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