Phillies

Best of MLB: Giancarlo Stanton homers twice to reach 59 in Marlins' win

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Best of MLB: Giancarlo Stanton homers twice to reach 59 in Marlins' win

MIAMI -- Giancarlo Stanton homered twice to become the first player to hit 59 in a season since 2001, and the Miami Marlins opened the last series of Jeffrey Loria's tenure as owner by beating the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Thursday night.

Stanton hit a solo home run in the fourth, then added a two-run drive in the eighth that would have gone 467 feet unimpeded, according to MLB's Statcast.

He has 33 home runs since the All-Star break and 10 multihomer games this season. He became the sixth player to reach 59, joining Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth.

Ichiro Suzuki got his 27th pinch hit of the year, one shy of the record John Vander Wal set in 1995.

Dee Gordon got two hits for the Marlins, who despite a 75-84 record assured themselves of second place in the NL East, their highest finish since 2009 (see full recap).

Astros pound Red Sox to keep Boston from clinching
BOSTON -- Major league batting leader Jose Altuve had three of Houston's 17 hits, Carlos Correa had four and the Astros chased Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez in the second inning to win 12-2 on Thursday night and keep Boston from clinching the first back-to-back AL East championships in franchise history.

Despite the loss, the Red Sox were guaranteed no worse than a tie for the division title when the Yankees lost 9-6 to Tampa Bay.

Boston needs one more win or Yankees loss to win the division; otherwise, the teams would meet in a one-game tie-breaker in New York on Monday to see who needs to play in the wild-card game and who advances to the AL Division Series -- likely facing the Astros.

Altuve had two singles and his 39th double to raise his batting average to .350. Brad Peacock (13-2) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one for the AL West champion Astros (see full recap).

Brewers inch closer to Rockies for 2nd wild card
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers closed within two games of Colorado for the National League's second wild card with three games left, rallying to beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 Thursday as Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning.

Milwaukee (84-75) closes the regular season at St. Louis, and the Rockies host the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers are assured of their best record since finishing 96-66 in 2011, when they lost to the Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, Milwaukee's last playoff appearance.

After Cincinnati tied the score in the sixth on RBI singles by Scooter Gennett against Brent Suter and Jesse Winkler off Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes (5-3) entered with two on and the Reds loaded the bases when the reliever bobbled Jose Peraza's bunt for an error.

Hughes struck out Adam Duvall and got Stuart Turner to ground into a double play (see full recap).

Despite loss in finale, Phillies finish with successful road trip

Despite loss in finale, Phillies finish with successful road trip

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ATLANTA — The Phillies won four out of six games on their road trip through the South and manager Gabe Kapler was happy with that. He said so in word after Wednesday night’s trip-ending, 7-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park (see first take). He said so in action in the eighth inning.

“All in all, you go on the road and you go 4-2, you feel good coming home,” Kapler said. “That's the biggest positive from this. We're going to go home stronger than when we left on this road trip. It's not an easy thing to do in baseball. I'm proud of our guys for doing that.”

Kapler’s satisfaction with the trip was evident even before the game ended. Lefty specialist Hoby Milner entered the game with one out in the eighth inning and the Phils down by two runs. His job, ostensibly, was to retire lefty hitters Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. He retired neither. Up came right-handed hitting Kurt Suzuki. The situation screamed for a right-hander but Kapler stuck with Milner and he allowed an RBI single as the Braves pulled away with three runs in the inning to salt the game away.

Entering the game, Milner had allowed a .375 batting average (21 for 56) to right-handed hitters and a .158 (12 for 76) average to lefty hitters for his career. Despite this, Kapler did not even have a right-hander up in the bullpen. In fact, no one was up. Kapler indicated that he had faith that Milner could get the job done.

But there was more to it, as well.

“At that point it was time to look, in part, to save our bullpen,” Kapler said. “That was the right time to save our bullpen and put them in a good position to succeed going forward.”

Kapler’s thinking was not unheard of. Ask any manager and he’ll tell you, some nights you have to give the bullpen a break, take one step back for the chance to take two forward in subsequent days, and that’s just what Kapler did. After all, the ‘pen did pick up five innings the night before. But the flip side to this was the Phils were down only two runs with the middle of the order due up in the ninth. Keep the difference at two runs and maybe you can rally. Five runs — different story.

All this made one wonder if Kapler didn’t believe his offense could pull it out in the ninth.

“We always have full confidence that the guy on the mound can get outs,” Kapler said. “So this, at least, was as much about our belief in Hoby to be able to get outs in that situation, and, also, preserve arms in the bullpen. And, also, we believe in our offense to be able to come back and put a big number up. Always.”

The Phils ended up scoring a run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough. Vince Velasquez gave up a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth when he allowed a walk, a single and a three-run homer to new Phillie killer Ryan Flaherty. The Braves were in control the rest of the way. They have beaten the Phillies in four of six meetings this season.

Phillies end road trip with loss to Braves

Phillies end road trip with loss to Braves

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ATLANTA — Ryan Flaherty spent spring training with the Phillies on a minor-league contract. He hit .351 with three doubles, a homer and eight RBIs. He played in the infield and the outfield. Flaherty did enough to win a spot on the Phillies’ opening day roster, but was a victim of a numbers crunch so the team granted him his release in the final week of camp. 

In need of some help at third base after Johan Camargo went down with an oblique injury, the Braves signed Flaherty to a big-league deal and installed him as their opening day third baseman.

All Flaherty has done since joining the Braves is hit. He entered Wednesday hitting .354, fifth best in the majors and .130 points better than his career average. He’s been especially tough on the Phillies. He swatted a three-run home run Wednesday night and the Phillies never recovered in a 7-3 loss at SunTrust Park. Flaherty also had an RBI single in the game.

In six games against the Phillies this season, Flaherty has 11 hits, including three doubles and a homer. Despite Flaherty’s strong start, the Braves appear to be making other plans at third base. Camargo came off the disabled list on Wednesday and the team also signed veteran Jose Bautista with the intention of looking at him at third base when he’s ready to go.

Flaherty’s three-run home run came against Vince Velasquez in the fifth inning.

Velasquez had helped himself with an RBI single in the top of the fifth to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. But the right-hander let the lead get away quickly when he allowed a leadoff walk, a single and Flaherty’s three-run homer all with no outs in the bottom of the inning.

Flaherty hit a first-pitch fastball that registered 94 mph.

Those were the only runs that Velasquez allowed in six innings of work. He struck out seven and walked one. That walk became a run.

Braves starter Brandon McCarthy held the Phillies to one run over 5 1/3 innings.

The Phillies ended up losing two out of three in the series and are 2-4 against the Braves on the season. The Phils did not do a lot of scoring in this series. They lost the opener, 2-1. They won the second game, 5-1, but scored four of their runs in the 10th inning. They scored just three runs in the finale.

They probably would have had one more run if it weren’t for Ender Inciarte. The Braves’ defensive whiz centerfielder rose above the wall in left-center to steal a home run away from Scott Kingery in the first inning. Inciarte, like Flaherty, was once Phillies property, a former Rule 5 pick that the club chose not to keep around.