Freeman Homer Propels Braves To Win Over Phils

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Freeman's three-run homer was key in Atlanta's 4-2 victory Friday night

Kyle Kendrick recovered from another rocky start, but the Phillies offense wasn’t able to overcome a solid outing from Julio Teheran as the Braves won the first of the four game series, 4-2.

Kendrick has made a lot of press for his first inning troubles this season, and it was much of the same in the first inning tonight. B.J. Upton singled to left to leadoff the game, and, following a walk by Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman hit the first pitch out to straightaway center field for a three-run homer. It was a pretty amusing moment as Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy, who had his glove with him as the broadcast team called the game from the seats in center, caught the home run ball, and threw it back after some encouragement from the fans. Kendrick needed 33 pitches to get three outs as the Braves sent eight men to the plate in the frame.

The Braves kept it up in the second as Freeman continued to be a one-man show for Atlanta, doubling to deep right-center to score Simmons, who reached on a two-out single. The RBI staked the Braves to an early 4-0 lead and was Freeman’s fourth of the game.

Kendrick settled down from then on, retiring the Braves in order in the third. John Mayberry Jr. reached on an infield hit to short, but Cameron Rupp, starting in place of Carlos Ruiz tonight, grounded into a double play before Kendrick struck out to end the inning.

The Phillies got on the board in the bottom of the fourth as Ben Revere tripled standing up to lead off, with Jimmy Rollins’ groundout to second scoring the speedy outfielder to make it 4-1 Atlanta. Chase Utley singled to left and moved to second on an error by Andrelton Simmons, who failed to catch the throw from first on a Howard fielder’s choice ball. Marlon Byrd drove Utley in with a single to left, cutting the Braves’ lead in half, but the rally would end there as Teheran, who threw around 30 pitches in the fourth alone, got Cody Asche to fly out before striking out Mayberry to end the inning.

Gerald Laird doubled to center to lead off the fifth for Atlanta, and Kendrick hit Justin Upton in the back to put men on first and second with one out, but battled back to get Chris Johnson to ground into a double play for outs two and three.  Revere singled with two outs and stole second easily, but was stranded as Teheran fanned Rollins for his third strikeout of the inning.

Both teams went down in order in the sixth, as Kendrick’s control looked better by leaps and bounds over the first two innings. In the seventh, Freeman collected his third hit of the game off Kendrick. He came into the game 5-18 with just one extra base hit and two RBI in his career against Kendrick. Kendrick then retired the next two batters to finish a scoreless seventh. Asche, Mayberry and Rupp went down in order as Teheran continued to look strong, with Rupp marking the seventh batter in a row retired by the Braves righty.

Kendrick came back out to pitch the eighth and made short work of the Atlanta batters, working around an infield single by Johnson to keep the score at 4-2. Kendrick looked much better in pitching deep into the game after looking hittable and inconsistent early; it might not have been a ‘quality start’ allowing four runs, but he certainly did his job tonight. He threw 123 pitches, 82 of which were strikes, and tied a career high with 8 strikeouts.

Jordan Walden relieved Teheran in the bottom of the inning, and allowed a leadoff single to Cesar Hernandez, who pinch hit for Kendrick. Hernandez moved to second on a wild pitch with one out, and, after Rollins struck out, Utley worked a walk with two outs, but Howard, too, went down swinging to end the inning.

B.J. Rosenberg came on to pitch the ninth, and got two strikeouts in a perfect inning of relief to keep the Phillies within striking distance heading into the bottom of the inning. Craig Kimbrel came in to close and had some rather noticeable command issues, twice sending 3-2 fastballs in near the head of Byrd. The first one was so close that it was incredible it didn’t hit him, as Byrd dodged the pitch by maybe a couple of inches. Byrd walked before Asche struck out. Mayberry came up with in another high-stakes RBI opportunity, and hit a long fly out to Justin Upton in center that just barely stayed in the yard. Byrd moved to second on a passed ball, but it wouldn’t matter as Domonic Brown, pinch hitting for Rupp, struck out to end the game. The final: 4-2.

Notable Statistics:

Kyle Kendrick: 8 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (1 HBP)

Ben Revere: 3-4, R

John Mayberry Jr. : 1-4, K

Impact:

Kendrick was really good after a rough start, battling back to pitch effectively and save the bullpen with eight strong innings. That, at least, should give the team some breathing room with the doubleheader tomorrow, especially with Sean O’ Sullivan starting one of the games. The offense, however, seemed overly aggressive against Teheran after the Braves took an early lead, managing just six hits over seven innings with no walks. Rupp started for Ruiz, who was placed on the 7-day concussion DL just prior to the game. The regular starting catcher was hit in the head by a pitch in the 11th inning of last night’s 14-inning, walk-off win, so its good to see the Phillies being cautious.

Up Next:

The Phillies and Braves have a doubleheader tomorrow, with Roberto Hernandez (3-6, 4.15) facing Ervin Santana (5-5, 4.15) in Game 1, while Sean O’ Sullivan (0-0) will get the call against Braves righty David Hale (2-2, 3.14)