Phillies start 5 rookies, hold off Braves 5-4
Out of playoff contention for a while, the Philadelphia Phillies are taking a look at their future.
They liked what they saw Saturday night.
Center fielder Cesar Hernandez, one of five rookies in the Phillies' starting lineup, got a career-high four hits and scored twice in a 5-4 win over the NL East champion Atlanta Braves.
''He's got a knack for swinging the bat,'' Phillies first-year manager Ryne Sandberg said of Hernandez. ''He's got good hands. He hits. He hits the fastball.''
Rookie catcher Cameron Rupp drove in the Phillies' first two runs with a first-inning single that gave them a lead they never lost.
''I thought Cameron Rupp was outstanding behind the plate,'' Sandberg said. ''He must have had 20-something blocks.''
''Swung a big bat, got a two-out (hit) to drive in the first two runs. I think he comes to spring training and competes for the job.''
Philadelphia led 5-1 with two outs in the ninth before Justin Upton's three-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon. The Braves then put runners on first and second, but shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a diving stop in the hole and threw out Chris Johnson at first to end the game.
''Heck of a play to end the game,'' Sandberg said. ''My first thought was he was going to ... third base because it was right in front of us. But when I saw him go ahead and go to first, a perfect one-hop throw and got him. Outstanding!''
Papelbon has struggled this year, but Sandberg saw better things for him next season.
''Getting some rest and getting back to throwing 94 (mph),'' Sandberg said. ''I think that's what he needs.''
Philadelphia rookie Ethan Martin started and allowed a first-inning run in three innings. Fellow rookie Luis Garcia (1-1) pitched two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.
Mike Minor (13-9) took the loss after allowing two earned runs in six innings.
Hernandez put a bunt down the first-base line on the game's first pitch for a single, and Rollins followed with a double on the second pitch by Minor. They scored on Rupp's single.
The Phillies held the 2-1 lead until the seventh, at which they looked like the team heading to the postseason and Braves looked anything but.
Hernandez opened with a single and took second on Walden's wild pitch. Rollins singled again and Hernandez was initially held up at third, only to restart and scored when Evan Gattis, a converted catcher, bobbled the ball in left.
Rollins took third when Walden's pickoff throw sailed past Freeman at first base and toward the right-field corner. Domonic Brown's RBI single made it 4-1, and Philadelphia added a run in the eighth on Chase Utley's single.
The Braves made it close in the ninth when second baseman Elliot Johnson reached on a one-out single, pinch-hitter Jose Constanza followed with a single and Upton homered with two outs.
NOTES: Braves RHP Julio Teheran (13-8, 3.09 ERA) will start Sunday against 31-year-old journeyman Zach Miner (0-1, 3.08), who began his professional career in the Braves' organization.