Phillies

Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Braves 3

Instant Replay: Phillies 10, Braves 3

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Fill-in starter Jake Thompson pitched five scoreless innings and Aaron Altherr homered twice as the Phillies battered the Atlanta Braves, 10-3, on Friday night.

The Phils hit four homers in all, three in a seven-run fifth inning.

Altherr, who had the first of those homers in the fifth, added another in the eighth. He now has 16 this season.

Thompson (1-0) made his first start of the season when Jeremy Hellickson, the subject of trade speculation, was scratched shortly before the start of the game (see story).

Altherr and Cameron Rupp opened the fifth with back-to-back homers off Braves starter Julio Teheran (7-9). Tommy Joseph added a three-run shot later in the inning, and Altherr launched an opposite-field blast off reliever Jason Hursh in the eighth.

Atlanta’s Kurt Suzuki and Sean Rodriguez slugged solo homers off Phillies reliever Hoby Milner in the seventh.

Starting pitching report
Thompson, recalled Tuesday from Triple A Lehigh Valley, made three relief appearances in the majors earlier this season. On Friday he allowed five hits while striking out five and walking two.

He had runners on in every inning, but showed a sharp slider and changeup; all of his strikeouts came courtesy of one of those pitches. He also had help from his defense.

The Phillies turned a double play after the Braves put runners at the corners with one out in the first, and Altherr, playing left field, threw out Matt Kemp at second in the fourth, when he attempted to stretch a single into a double.

Teheran went 4 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking two. He was nicked for a run in the first when Suzuki, the Braves’ catcher, threw wildly to third on Freddy Galvis’ steal, and responsible for all seven runs in the fifth.

Bullpen report
Milner allowed the homers to Suzuki and Rodriguez in his two innings of work, and the Braves pushed another run across against Adam Morgan in the eighth with the help of Maikel Franco’s error.

Joaquin Benoit retired Ender Inciarte to end that inning, after Atlanta loaded the bases with two down, then pitched a scoreless ninth.

Atlanta reliever Sam Freeman blanked the Phils over 1 1/3 innings, but Hursh surrendered Altherr’s homer.

At the plate
Altherr began the game hitting .290, but manager Pete Mackanin dropped him to the seven-hole in the order because he was 1 for 12 off Teheran.

At the same time, Mackanin said, “He’s not the same hitter he was last year. He’s shorter to the ball.”

Altherr showed that in his fifth-inning at-bat, ripping Teheran’s 2-0 fastball into the upper deck in left, well over 400 feet away. He took Hursh’s 95-mph offering the other way for his second homer.

Rupp followed Altherr’s first homer of the night with his 10th, the fourth time this season the Phils have gone back to back. The last time was July 9 against San Diego, when Altherr and Galvis did so.

Galvis added an RBI triple later in the inning, then continued home on a throwing error by Atlanta second baseman Brandon Phillips.

Joseph’s three-run shot was his 16th homer of the season.

Suzuki hit his 11th homer and Rodriguez his second in the seventh for the Braves. Both of Rodriguez’s homers have come as a pinch hitter. He has four such homers in his career.

Pair of trades
Shortly after the game, the Phillies traded veteran outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick to the Nationals (see story).

And later in the night, Hellickson was sent to the Orioles (see story).

Medical report
Kemp left the game after straining his right hamstring on the fourth-inning play in which he attempted to stretch a single into a double. 

Up next
Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-7, 4.71) opposes LHP Sean Newcomb (1-5, 4.81) when the series continues Saturday night at 7:05 on NBC10.

Analyzing the roads ahead for Phillies and Braves

Analyzing the roads ahead for Phillies and Braves

Exactly a month from today, the Phillies and Braves will meet for the first time since May 23.

The Phillies have 27 games between now and then; the Braves have 29.

The Phils missed a golden chance to pick up ground in the NL East race this weekend by losing the final two games of the Mets series while the Braves were swept at home in a four-game series against the Rockies.

As a result, the Phillies are a half-game back in the division with the regular season 75 percent complete. The wild-card picture is crowded, with the Phillies currently tied with the Rockies and Brewers.

What's been going on with the Braves?

Prior to being swept by the Rockies, the Braves had gone nearly three weeks without losing two in a row. They've been carried lately by rookie Ronald Acuña Jr., who on Sunday did not reach base to begin the game. It was notable because he had reached base to lead off nine games in a row, the longest streak in 18 years.

The Braves have some challenging series ahead but will be a threat down to the final days of the season because of their dynamic top-of-the-order and the consistently solid, clutch production from Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Whether or not you believe in "clutch," the icy, contained, contact-heavy approach Freeman and Markakis have in pressure situations sets them up for more success than most with runners in scoring position.

In the rotation, lefty Sean Newcomb has allowed five-plus runs in four of his last eight starts. Kevin Gausman has been a valuable addition so far, allowing two runs in six innings, one in eight and three in five since the trade from Baltimore.

The Braves' bullpen has been shaky. With closer Arodys Vizcaino on the DL, second-year lefty A.J. Minter has been closing games. He had an ugly meltdown Saturday night with two outs, nobody on and the Braves ahead 3-0. He's blown two of his last six games.

The upcoming schedules

The Braves have just one off day between Aug. 20 and Sept. 13. 

They begin a seven-game road trip tonight — three in Pittsburgh, four in Miami. 

The Pirates have faded from contention but are a pesky team that makes a lot of contact and has a very good bullpen combination with Felipe Vazquez and Keone Kela. These should be low-scoring games.

The Braves are 7-1 against the Marlins since the All-Star break. Miami can't be relied on for much spoiling at this juncture.

Following that for the Braves is a nine-game homestand against the Rays (2), Cubs (1), Pirates (3) and Red Sox (3).

Hopefully, the Red Sox still care about wins and losses two weeks from now. Their lead is so big. 

After that comes a real test for the Braves, a late-season, seven-game West Coast road trip to Arizona and San Francisco. The Diamondbacks are in the thick of the race and the Giants are on the periphery but still far from a doormat. 

The Phillies, meanwhile, have just one series left all season outside the Eastern Time Zone.

After that West Coast trip, the Braves have three with the Nationals, three with the Cardinals, then come the Phillies.

Just to review, the Braves' schedule leading up to Phillies series:

• 3 at Pirates
• 4 at Marlins
• 2 vs. Rays
• 1 vs. Cubs
• 3 vs. Pirates
• 3 vs. Red Sox
• 4 at Diamondbacks
• 3 at Giants
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Cardinals

And the Phillies' schedule leading up to that point:

• 3 at Nationals
• 3 at Blue Jays
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Cubs
• 3 at Marlins
• 3 at Mets
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Marlins
• 3 vs. Mets

More on the Phillies

Krukcast: Memories from Little League

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Krukcast: Memories from Little League

On this edition of Krukcast, Gregg Murphy and John Kruk share memories of Little League Baseball. Kruk on what it was like covering the Little League World Series. Also, the guys discuss what they hope today's kids experience playing in Little League.

1:00 - Kruk was a dominant Little Leaguer.
5:00 - What made Little League so enjoyable.
9:00 - Lessons Kruk learned growing up in Little League.
14:00 - Covering the LLWS.

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