Herrera hits 2 homers, Nola goes 7, Phils beat Braves 7-3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Odubel Herrera has made sure his spot in the lineup is secure.
Herrera, a 2016 All-Star and the Phillies’ best player the past two seasons, was upset he didn’t start the season opener in Atlanta. But he’s been a fixture in center field and No. 3 in the batting order on a team that uses 10 players as regulars.
”I feel very locked in,” Herrera said through an interpreter after raising his average to .348.
Manager Gabe Kapler has been impressed with Herrera’s ability to adapt during at-bats.
”He makes adjustments with the barrel as good as anybody I’ve seen,” Kapler said.
Braves right-hander Julio Teheran left after three innings because of tightness in his right upper trapezius. Braves manager Brian Snitker said it’s not serious and expects Teheran to make his next start.
”I didn’t want to take a chance so we just shut it down,” Snitker said.
Nola (3-1) settled in nicely after allowing three runs in the first. He didn’t give up another run and surrendered seven hits.
”Cool, calm, collected leadership,” Kapler said of Nola. ”He gave up three in the first but he’s the same guy with the same level of confidence.”
Herrera lined a three-run homer to right in the first to tie it at 3-3. His solo shot off Max Fried (0-2) gave the Phillies a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Herrera had never hit more than one homer in a game in the majors.
Alfaro drove a two-run shot out to center in the seventh off Chase Whitley, who made his first big league appearance this year after he was brought up from the minors Friday. Alfaro added an RBI single in the eighth and with three hits raised his average from .163 to .208.
”I’ve been working with the hitting coach in the cage, trying to select better pitches, swing at strikes, stay in the zone,” Alfaro said.
Freddie Freeman got the Braves started with an RBI single. Nola almost worked out of a first-and-third, no-out jam by retiring Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki on pop-ups. But Ozzie Albies stole home on a double steal with Freeman beating the throw to second base. Ronald Acuna Jr. followed with an RBI double for the third run.
Acuna’s hit had 111.8 mph exit velocity, the hardest-hit ball by Braves this season, according to Statcast.
Teheran didn’t allow a hit in the next two innings before coming out.
The Phillies are off to a 16-9 start, their best mark after 25 games since going 17-8 to begin the 2011 season. A win Saturday would put them eight games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2011 season with a franchise-best 102 wins.
Acuna robbed Herrera of extra bases with a diving, backhanded catch on a sinking liner to left.
RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.77 ERA) starts for the Braves on Saturday while RHP Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.57 ERA) goes for Philadelphia. Foltynewicz is 3-2, 4.02 in nine appearances against the Phillies. Pivetta is 3-0, 2.77 in five starts vs. Atlanta.
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