What a finish. The Phillies beat the Braves, 5-4, Sunday night on a play at the plate. Andrew Knapp made a great play, receiving a one-hopper and holding on to tag Dansby Swanson to end the game.
It looked like Freddie Freeman had tied the game with two outs in the ninth on a gapper to left-center, but Swanson couldn't score from first.
"Exactly how you practice it," said Alec Bohm, who hit his first major-league home run earlier in the night.
Despite the ill omen of stranding the bases loaded two innings in a row, and despite playing a poor defensive game, the brutal five-game losing streak is over.
Credit the bullpen in this one. The Phillies finally protected a lead after blowing five in a row. Newcomer Heath Hembree, Tommy Hunter and Brandon Workman picked up 11 outs.
The Phillies hit three homers. Rhys Hoskins hit his second of the season and Didi Gregorius hit his fourth.
It was Bryce Harper's quietest game of the season. He went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and a bases-loaded popout with one out. It was the first game this season he failed to reach base.
Hey, the Phillies will take it. They haven't even been winning games lately when their superstars play like superstars.
The Phillies are 10-14. They trail the Braves by four games in the NL East and the second-place Marlins by two games.
The Phils are off Monday before facing the Nationals in a three-game series in D.C. Tuesday through Thursday.
The new guy steps up
In the biggest moment of the game, Hembree made his debut with runners on second and third and one out in the sixth inning. Hembree was protecting a two-run lead.
He needed five pitches to get out of the jam:
• 93 mph fastball, fouled back • 94 mph fastball, swing-and-miss • 95 mph fastball, fouled back • 95 mph fastball, swing-and-miss (strikeout) • 1st-pitch groundout
He then faced the minimum in his second inning. In all, Hembree allowed one baserunner in 1⅔ innings and struck out two.
Hembree brings velocity, which the Phillies' bullpen desperately needed and, quite frankly, still needs. His average of 94.4 mph with the heater the last four seasons is harder than the fastball of every Phillie in 2020 except Zack Wheeler.
Workman, who blew a save and took a loss in his first day as a Phillie Saturday, came back to pick up the save a night later. He was not at all sharp but came away with his first save as a Phillie.
Hoskins dropped a relatively routine throw to first base in the sixth inning which nearly spurred a Braves rally. The next batter doubled to put runners on second and third before Hembree quelled the threat.
Bohm struggled again defensively at third, missing balls hit just to his left and just to his right. A good defensive third baseman makes both plays. Instead, one was an RBI single and the other a double.
The Phillies have too many DH-types for too few spots right now. Neither Bohm nor Hoskins is an above-average defensive player. Jay Bruce, currently on the IL with a quad injury, is a DH. The Phillies also like to use that spot to get Andrew McCutchen or J.T. Realmuto off of their feet.
Bohm's bat needs to be in the lineup, but there's no doubt that his glove at the hot corner is subtracting some overall value. He did make two routine plays in the ninth in a high-pressure situation.
Eflin pitches well
Zach Eflin kept the Phillies in the game and probably would have completed six innings if not for the defensive miscues. He allowed three runs over 5⅓ innings and struck out six. Eflin is 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA through four starts.
The Phillies have received only one quality start (6+ innings, 3 ER or fewer) in their 14 games not started by Wheeler or Aaron Nola.