Braves Use Long-Ball to Outlast Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves opened up a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park tonight. Both teams are coming into the series off of three-game sweeps as the Phillies swept the Miami Marlins, and the Braves swept the Washington Nationals. Roberto Hernandez started on the mound for the Phillies, while Ervin Santana got the ball for the Braves.

Hernandez and Santana started off cruising, striking out two apiece in the first inning. Then in the bottom of the second, Ryan Howard hit a scorching liner over the center-field fence to put the Phillies on the board. Roberto Hernandez was worked by the Braves throughout all of the first three innings, throwing 58 pitches but leaving runners stranded in scoring position each inning. To end the third, Freddie Freeman grounded into the classic 1-5-2-4 double play as the Braves walked away with no runs after having another runner reach third base.

After a six pitch fourth inning from Hernandez, Ervin Santana began to work himself into a jam in the bottom of the fourth. Marlon Byrd doubled to deep left and Domonic Brown drew a walk, only to have the inning end as Dan Uggla made a spectacular play, diving to catch a screaming line drive from Carlos Ruiz, flipping the ball to Andrelton Simmons at second to force Byrd out.

Roberto Hernandez managed to work out of another jam in the top of the fifth, leaving runners stranded on first and second after Ramiro Pena doubled to right and Jason Heyward worked a walk. The Braves finally got to Hernandez in the bottom of the sixth when Evan Gattis took a 2-2 sinker to opposite field, bringing home Freddie Freeman on the two-run homer giving the Braves a 2-1 lead. It took Hernandez 36 pitches, but he eventually worked out of the sixth inning, finishing with 118 pitches on the night.

Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a double in the bottom of the sixth, only to have Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd follow with strikeouts ending the inning.

Mario Hollands relieved Hernandez in the seventh, striking out Justin Upton to cap off an inning’s worth of work. In the bottom of the seventh, Ian Thomas relieved Ervin Santana, who was a mechanic on the mound tonight. Santana finished with 11 strikeouts on 96 pitches, giving up only one run on four hits and two walks. After Cody Asche reached first on a Dan Uggla error, Anthony Varvaro relieved Thomas and struck out John Mayberry Jr. to finish the seventh.

Evan Gattis and Dan Uggla made BJ Rosenberg pay for poor accuracy in the top of the eighth, starting the inning off with back-to-back home runs. Rosenberg’s night did not last much longer as he gave up a third consecutive home run, this time to Andrelton Simmons, giving the Braves a 5-1 lead. Luis Garcia managed to come in for Rosenberg without furthering the damage produced by the bats of the Braves.

In the bottom of the eighth, things hit rock bottom for the Braves when Luis Avilan came in to the ballgame. Avilan started off the inning by walking Tony Gwynn Jr. and giving up consecutive singles to Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, loading up the bases for the Phillies. Ryan Howard struck out looking, then Marlon Byrd sawed off an Avilan sinker into right, knocking in two runs and cutting the Braves deficit to two. Up stepped Domonic Brown, who picked a perfect time to hit his first home run on the season, giving the Phillies a 6-5 lead entering the ninth.

Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable to close since he has pitched in the Phillies’ last three games, so Jake Diekman got the call from Ryne Sandberg to finish the comeback for the Phillies. BJ Upton walked to start the inning off, Freddie Freeman grounded into a fielder’s choice to second, but Upton was safe, and then Justin Upton walked, loading up the bases for the Braves. Diekman was able to strike out Evan Gattis, but then gave up a Grand Slam to Dan Uggla, a shot that gave the Braves a 9-6 lead.

David Carpenter got the save for the Braves, with Kimbrel unavailable as well, and the Braves took game one of this four-game set with the Phillies, by a score of 9-6.

Luis Avilan got the win, Jake Diekman was stuck with the loss, and David Carpenter shut the door, earning the save. In the top of the ninth inning, Jake Diekman had zero control of his pitches, which quickly led to his potential save vanishing on the bat of Dan Uggla.

Both teams combined for seven home runs with the Braves hitting five and the Phillies getting two. Dan Uggla had five runs batted in, earning player of the game rights.

Tomorrow night, the Braves will be sending David Hale on the mound, who will be opposed by Cliff Lee as the Phillies look to avenge the heart-breaking loss they suffered tonight.

Image Source: Getty Images

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