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Phillies Fall to Braves as Neris Blows 1st Save

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Home runs from Bryce Harper (two-run), Rhys Hoskins (two-run) and Scott Kingery (solo) were not enough, as the Philadelphia Phillies (38-31) kicked off their 30-day stretch with 26 straight games against National League opponents on a sour note — failing to edge the division-leading Atlanta Braves (41-29) in Friday's three-game series opener at SunTrust Park, losing 9-8. With the Phillies loss, the Braves extended their winning streak to eight games, as well as their division lead to 2 1/2 games over the Phillies.

The Phillies had a 7-2 lead as late as the seventh inning. On his 30th birthday, Hector Neris blew his first save out of 15 opportunities. The Braves scored two runs on a walk and three hits, including an Austin Riley RBI double and Brian McCann's walk-off, two-RBI single. The game was the Phillies' third multi-homer game in June, and just their eighth since May 7, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Scott Lauber notes

Phillies starting pitcher RHP Nick Pivetta was in-line to his fifth win prior to the blown save. He allowed four runs on eight hits, two walks, six strikeouts and three home runs allowed. One-third of the Braves' nine runs came via leadoff solo home runs by Josh Donaldson (10) in the second, Freddie Freeman (19) in the sixth, and McCann (6) in the seventh. Braves southpaw starter LHP Max Fried allowed five runs on seven hits, two walks, four strikeouts and two home runs (Harper, Kingery) spanning just 4 2/3 innings.

The Phillies are now 3-1 against the Braves this season; the Gabe Kapler-led squad had won five straight games against them, prior to Friday's loss, dating back to last September. The Phillies swept the Braves in the season-opening series at Citizens Bank Park, March 28 and 30-31.

Both the Phillies and Braves went down 1-2-3 in the first; the Phillies would strike first in the game in the second, however. After Jay Bruce and Kingery each singled, third baseman Sean Rodriguez produced a RBI single to left — his fifth RBI of the season.

Donaldson would homer to start the second, but the Braves would not score again until the sixth. In between, the Phillies added two runs in the third behind Harper's two-run home run (12), followed by one run each in the fourth (Kingery solo home run) and fifth (J.T. Realmuto scoring on Fried wild pitch).

Freeman took Pivetta deep in the sixth, decreasing the Braves lead to 5-2. The Phillies responded, however, with Hoskins launching his team-leading 15th home run of the season, a two-run shot the next half-inning to give the club a 7-2 lead. Hoskins also leads the Phillies in RBI (49).

Pivetta would only retire two of his five batters faced in the latter-half of the seventh; McCann's solo home run brought the Braves within four. Vince Velasquez entered with two runners on and two outs after Pivetta was pulled following 116 pitches. Prior, Kapler gave Pivetta a chance to record the inning's last out; Kapler walked out to the mound after Pivetta allowed a two-out double, and opted to leave him in, but the right-hander would go on to walk Dansby Swanson. While Velasquez allowed a RBI single to Freeman, adding onto Pivetta's final line, he would strike out Donaldson for the final out and prevent further damage.

The Phillies added an insurance run in the eighth. After Kingery doubled to left, Rodriguez advanced him to third and Cesar Hernandez to home on a sacrifice fly RBI. The Braves cut the Phillies' four-run lead in half the next half-inning behind Ozzie Albies' RBI single and Charlie Culberson's RBI triple, both against southpaw Jose Alvarez.

Neris would go on to blow the game in the ninth.

Game Notes:

  • Since rejoining the Phillies' rotation, Pivetta has allowed eight runs in 26 2/3 innings, including the first complete game of his career last Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds. The right-hander entered his Friday start having allowed only one run over his previous 19 innings.
  • The game drew SunTrust Park's largest crowd this season: 41,975.
  • Braves starting pitcher Fried drew a 13-pitch walk against Pivetta, contributing much to the right-handers' 116 total pitches thrown.
  • After failing to score in the first, the Phillies would score in six of the remaining eight innings.
  • Just three of the Phillies’ first 68 games were against the Braves, all in the season-opening series. Meanwhile, 16 of the Phillies' last 94 games (including Friday) will be against the current division leader. The Phillies entered Friday with a MLB third-best .528 winning percentage (19-17) opposite teams at or above .500, notes The Athletic's Matt Gelb.
  • Phillies shortstop Jean Segura started at the leadoff spot for the first time in a Phillies uniform; he went 1-for-3 (single) with a run scored and two walks.
    • Batting 2nd: 50 GS, 219 PA, 36 R, 57 H, 12 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 13 BB, 27 SO, .282/.335/.421
    • Batting 3rd: 8 G, 36 PA, 5 R, 10 H, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, .294/.306/.647

What's Next:

  • Saturday, June 15, 2019: at Atlanta Braves, 7:20 p.m.
    • SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Ga.
    • RHP Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.58 ERA) vs. LHP Sean Newcomb (1-0, 2.59 ERA)
    • TV: NBCSP; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP


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