Phillies

Bryson Stott ends Phillies' losing streak with dramatic 3-run bomb

Phillies

Staring at a fourth straight loss and down to their final four outs, the Phillies were saved by another clutch, late bomb from Bryson Stott Monday night.

The rookie took tough Braves left-hander A.J. Minter deep for a two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to send the Phillies to a 6-4 win.

It was only the second homer Minter has allowed to a left-handed batter in his six-year big-league career.

It was Stott's second three-run homer of the season with the Phillies trailing in the eighth inning or later.

He's developed a knack for these big moments with the ability to stay controlled under pressure.

"I feel like that's the biggest help for me is just kind of breathing and staying calm and not letting it get too big," Stott said. "Just staying with my same approach the whole game.

"It's huge after losing three to the Cubs. We come back today and pull that one out. Hope that gives us some momentum to keep going."

Stott drove in five of the Phillies' six runs, all with two outs. He hit a two-run double in the second inning on a soft chopper to first base that took a funky hop and eluded Matt Olson.

Stott, who is hitting .196 on the season with a .600 OPS, has been better than his numbers indicate, particularly since he returned from Triple A in mid-May. Since June 1, he's hit .234/.312/.382 with six doubles, seven homers and 24 RBI in 157 plate appearances. Not massive production, but he's come through in some big spots and those are numbers you'll take from a rookie middle infielder.

 

Stott is pushing to keep playing regularly even when the infield crunch arises after second baseman Jean Segura returns, which could be July 31 when Segura is first eligible. At that point, the Phillies will have a decision to make. Do they play Stott at shortstop and bench Didi Gregorius?

It's something the Phils will have to figure out but it's not as if the veteran Gregorius has outplayed him.

"Stotter had good at-bats all night," manager Rob Thomson said. "Seeing a lot of pitches, he hangs in on left-handers, he's seeing the ball really well right now and giving us good at-bats. 

"I see him as that type of a guy. He's going to see a lot of pitches, he's going to walk, get on base, he's going to get his hits too and he's got some pop."

This was an important comeback for the Phils, who had lost three in a row and seven of 10 and had been held below four runs in 10 of their last 12 games.

The Phillies are 50-46 and picked up a half-game on the idle Cardinals. They trail St. Louis by a half-game for the final National League wild-card spot.

Alec Bohm started the eighth-inning rally with a single, his third hit of the night. Bohm has hit .411 over his last 20 games to raise his season batting average to .287.

"He's really been on a tear lately," Thomson said. "He's getting the head out, he's barreling a lot of balls up, swinging at good pitches."

The Braves have been MLB's hottest team since June 1, going 35-13. This was the first of five meetings between the teams over the next nine days.

"I think it's a huge win altogether," Thomson said. "Just because the way we started the second half, the way we started this game tonight, and we battled back against a really good pitcher (Max Fried). Just kept fighting and grinding and got it done."

The Phillies will look to win the series Tuesday night behind Aaron Nola, who opposes Braves strikeout machine Spencer Strider. The 23-year-old rookie has punched out 77 batters in 50 innings since joining Atlanta's rotation at the end of May.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are just 17-20 this season in games started by Nola and Zack Wheeler, a confusing two-year trend they must overcome to end their decade-long postseason drought.