By Sam Bush

And so the Phillies season comes down to this.

It’s hanging by a thread this morning after another loss to the NL East-leading Braves that leaves the Phils 4 1/2 games behind.

Their push for a playoff spot for the first time in a decade will end with their next loss.

Some fans will count this season as a positive because they are still alive with four games to play.

Others will curse the darkness of another lost season.

Max Fried pitched seven strong innings, Austin Riley drove in three runs, and Atlanta beat the Phillies 7-2.

The Braves have won nine of 11 and reduced their magic number to one.

Aaron Nola (9-9) gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings. He has a 6.00 ERA in six starts this month.

Bryce Harper, a leading candidate to win his second NL MVP award, and cleanup hitter J.T. Realmuto are a combined 0 for 15 in the series. Harper, who snapped a 23-game on-base streak, is 0 for 7 with five strikeouts. He struck out three times against Fried.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi knows his team is on life support.

“We have to win every game so we’ve got to do whatever it takes, obviously, and then we need a lot of help,” Girardi said. “It’s frustrating. The game kind of got away from us in the seventh. Nola battled his butt off to only give up the three runs tonight, but again we didn’t do much off Max Fried tonight.”

Atlanta led 3-1 when Ozzie Albies singled to begin the third inning and scored from first on Eddie Rosario’s two-out double.

Riley made it 5-2 in the seventh with a two-run double off Héctor Neris down the left-field line. Dansby Swanson followed with a two-run single up the middle off Sam Coonrod for a 7-2 lead.

Ronald Torreyes’ RBI single in the second inning ended a streak of 17 2/3 scoreless innings for Fried. Odúbel Herrera had two doubles for the Phillies.

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