Phillies use long ball, strong bullpen outing to beat Braves
ATLANTA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius and Alec Bohm homered, Philadelphia's bullpen turned in a rare strong performance and the Phillies snapped a five-game skid with a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Sunday night.
It wasn't easy for the Phillies, who watched closer Brandon Workman survive the ninth when Dansby Swanson, the potential tying run, was tagged out at the plate by catcher Andrew Knapp to end the game. The Braves challenged the call, but it was upheld.
“It’s a great relay, it's a great play by Knapp, a short-hop," Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We needed this win really badly. We had a tough week.”
Knapp took Gregorius' relay throw and positioned himself perfectly in front of the plate.
“It’s one of these wins you can look at the end of the season and say, ’Man, that turned our season around,' ” Knapp said.
Braves manager Brian Snitker knew Knapp had perfect position, but decided to try and challenge anyway.
“He was clearly in front of the plate before he had the ball," Snitker said. “He didn't get the ball, then take the plate away. He was waiting in front of the plate as the rule says. The ball didn't take him there. He was already there, but it's not called anymore, but I thought I'd take a crack at it."
Heath Hembree, making in Phillies' debut, retired his two batters in the sixth to strand a pair of runners in scoring position, helping a bullpen that began the night with an 8.29 ERA that was by far the worst in the majors.
“My mentality is to attack hitters," Hembree said. “Coming into that situation, I felt comfortable because I was in that spot a lot with the Red Sox. It wasn’t foreign to me.”
Tommy Hunter and Workman pitched the last two innings.
Philadelphia took a 5-3 lead in the fourth on Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single, but left the bases loaded when Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto popped up. They did the same in the fifth when McCutchen flew out.
The lead was enough for the Phillies to win in Atlanta for just the seventh time in 22 games, a span of three seasons. Philadelphia improved to 2-6 on the road this year.
Bohm hit his first career homer, a 446-foot shot that carried into the fountain in center field, to make it 1-0 in the second. McCutchen singled, Hoskins went deep to left field and Gregorius connected to right in the third.
Atlanta cut the lead to 4-3 in the third on Freddie Freeman’s RBI double and Marcell Ozuna’s RBI single.
Tomlin gave up six hits and four runs in three innings. Touki Toussaint, Atlanta’s next pitcher, allowed one run and two hits in 1 1/3 innings.
The Braves had won two straight and five of six and were 10-3 at Truist Park this season, the best record in the NL.
Zach Eflin (1-1) allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He improved to 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA in eight starts against Atlanta.
Bohm reached four times, including walk and two singles.
Phillies: Girardi said LHP Ranger Suárez (COVID-19) threw in a game Saturday at the team’s alternate training site in Lehigh Valley. ... RHP David Robertson (Tommy John surgery) threw to some batters standing in.
Braves: Snitker said OF Ronald Acuña Jr. (left wrist inflammation) took batting practice and added the team will see how he responds Monday before deciding whether he can be activated Tuesday against the New York Yankees. ... 2B Ozzie Albies (right wrist bone contusion) will swing a bat Monday, but Snitker had no immediate timetable on him.
Harper, who homered and walked Saturday to boost his OPS to 1.192, tops in the majors struck out three times and went 0 for 5. He had reached safely in all 22 of his games this season.
Snitker said rookie OF Cristian Pache was promoted primarily to help defensively late in games, not to be in the everyday lineup. Pache, the team’s top prospect, made an impressive throw to the plate late in Saturday’s win and was in Friday’s lineup batting ninth while making his debut.
Saturday’s 6-5 victory was the Braves’ 83rd in their final at-bat since Snitker took charge on May 17, 2016. That’s the most in the majors over that span. The Braves lead the NL this season with six victories in their final at-bat. They rank first in the majors with four victories when trailing after seven innings.
Both teams are off Monday and have yet to announce a starter for Tuesday. The Phillies open a three-game series at Washington against RHP Erick Fedde (1-1, 2.55). Atlanta faces Gerrit Cole (4-0, 2.75) as it begins a two-game home series against the Yankees.
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