Phillies

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Mets 4

Instant Replay: Phillies 6, Mets 4

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NEW YORK -- The Phillies on Thursday night did something that is not easy to do. They beat Noah Syndergaard.

The Phils scored three times in the second inning and twice more in the third against the flame-throwing right-hander on their way to a 6-4 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Phils ended up taking two of three to win just their third series against the Mets in the last 18 tries.

Syndergaard entered the game with the fourth-best ERA in the majors (2.78) since the start of the 2015 season and he had allowed just two earned runs in 19 innings over his first three starts this season.

Tommy Joseph, Andrew Knapp and Maikel Franco all had RBI doubles against Syndergaard, whose fastball reached triple digits a number of times.

Franco's double in the third broke an 0-for-22 slump. He also smacked a solo homer off reliever Fernando Salas in the eighth.

Aaron Nola got the win despite allowing the Mets to chip away at his early 5-1 lead.

The Phils are 6-9. The Mets are 8-8.

Starting pitching report
Though he left the game with a one-run lead, Nola did not pitch well. He ran a high pitch count (96) and lasted just five innings. He gave up seven hits and four runs. He walked four and struck out two. Nola had trouble putting hitters away. He gave up four hits with two strikes on a batter, including a three-run homer to Neil Walker on an 0-2 breaking ball in the third inning.

Syndergaard was not supported by good defense. Two of the five runs he gave up were unearned. He went seven innings and did not walk a batter. He struck out 10. He has not walked a batter in 26 innings this season. He has 30 strikeouts.

Bullpen report
Lefty Joely Rodriguez came up huge for the Phils. He got six outs in protecting a one-run lead. He threw 17 pitches, 14 strikes.

Manager Pete Mackanin switched up his end game and used Joaquin Benoit for a scoreless eighth and Hector Neris for the save. Benoit was installed as closer just last week after Jeanmar Gomez lost the job.

At the plate
The Phillies had 10 hits. Franco and Joseph, who both entered the game hitting under .160, accounted for five of them. In addition to his two extra-base hits, Franco walked once. Aaron Altherr had two hits.

Walker's homer was the big hit for the Mets.

In the field
The Mets made three errors.

Lineup stuff
Michael Saunders was scratched from the starting lineup because of illness. He did pinch-hit in the sixth inning and lined a shot to the gap in left-center. Saunders was denied extra bases when Mets left-fielder Michael Conforto made a terrific grab running into the wall.

Up next
The Phils return home Friday night to begin a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday night -- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 0.82) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (1-1, 4.24)

Saturday night -- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.75) vs. LHP Jaime Garcia (0-1, 4.67)

Sunday afternoon -- RHP Zach Eflin (0-0, 3.60) vs. RHP Mike Foltynewicz (0-2, 4.26)

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.