Bonifacio, Braves beat Phillies 2-1
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Fredi Gonzalez was tossing and turning in his hotel room Saturday night.
With starter Alex Wood sidelined with a forearm injury, the Atlanta Braves manager was worried about the pitching for the final game of the regular season.
''I only got about four hours sleep because I was up trying to figure out how to use the bullpen,'' Gonzalez said. ''They did a terrific job.''
Led by James Russell, who started for the first time since 2011, five Braves pitchers combined to stymie the Philadelphia Phillies and made a couple of first inning runs stand up in a 2-1 victory.
Russell pitched four scoreless innings before handing off to Luis Avilan (4-1), who picked up the win with two shutout innings in relief. Craig Kimbrel notched his 47th save.
''They gave me a chance so I thought I might as well show what I could do,'' Russell said. ''I've always had confidence in myself as a starter and I was happy to get the chance.''
The Braves needed their bullpen to come through because Phillies ace Cole Hamels was nearly as stingy.
After allowing the first four Braves batters to reach base, Hamels (9-9) didn't allow a hit the rest of his eight innings.
Hamels, who remained in the game after getting hit in the mouth by Tommy La Stella's grounder in the second inning, retired 20 consecutive Braves before hitting Joey Terdoslavich with a pitch in the seventh inning.
''What a great pitcher,'' Gonzalez said of Hamels. ''We sniffed a couple of runs off him in the first inning then he gets hit in the face and almost pitches a complete game.''
Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with home run and Freddie Freeman had an RBI single in the first for the Braves.
Ben Revere got a hit to finish tied with Washington Nationals outfielder Dennard Span for most hits in the NL with 184.
A half-game out of first place in the NL East on July 29, the Braves ended up in a tie for second with the New York Mets at 79-83. Atlanta won just six of 25 games in a dismal September and was 26-41 after the All-Star break.
''It's fun to end the season in a positive way,'' Russell said. ''It's just a shame we didn't make a better push for the playoffs.''
Beset by injuries to its starting rotation, the Braves finished with a losing record for the first time since 2008 and just the third time since 1991.
The Phillies (73-89) finished with an identical record to 2013 and had consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1999-2000. It was also the first last-place finish for the club since 2000.
''Last place is a first for me,'' said Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who didn't play during the final few weeks of the season with a hamstring injury. ''We started rebuilding this year. (in the offseason) we need to find ways to score runs with the guys we have plus one or two guys they go get and guys that fill out the bench. Rebuilding is something that started this year and we played like a rebuilding team honestly.
Freeman played every inning of every game this season, the only player in the majors to accomplish that feat this year. In doing so, he also set the Atlanta Braves club record for most innings played in a season with 1449, passing the previous mark of 1447 1-3 set by Andruw Jones in 1999.
Hamels made his 30th start of the season for the Phillies Sunday, reaching that benchmark for the seventh consecutive season and surpassed the 200-inning plateau for the fifth straight year. Both are the best by any Phillies pitcher since Hall-of-Fame lefty Steve Carlton did both for nine consecutive seasons from 1972-80.
Phillies reliever Jake Diekman pitched the ninth and struck out both Freeman and Evan Gattis to finish with 100 strikeouts for the season. He became the first Phillies reliever to strike out 100 batters since Al Holland also finished with 100 in 1983.