The Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park tonight after a six-game road trip to Washington and New York, and the homecoming did not disappoint. Coming into Friday night’s game, Philadelphia and Atlanta were tied for the worst record in the National League–each at 6-9. The Braves were sitting at a comfortable .500 record after a 4-game weekend sweep of the San Diego Padres, but quickly fell off their high horse after finding themselves on the wrong side of the broom during a mid-week series against the Nationals.
After a 9 up, 9 down first inning-and-a-half (Cesar Hernandez had a bunt single but Aaron Altherr grounded into a double player immediately afterwards), Freddy Galvis hit a ball that ricocheted off fan-favorite and cult figure Bartolo Colon’s leg, scoring Michael Saunders, who doubled and advanced to third on a groundout, in the process.
The Phillies added two more runs in the bottom of the third inning courtesy of RBI by Altherr, who doubled and brought home Cesar, and Tommy Joseph, who singled and scored Altherr. Hellickson, who was dealing a perfect game through three innings, allowed back-to-back hits to begin the fourth inning, thus resulting in an Ender Inciarte run to make the score 3-1.
From the top of the 4th inning to the top of 6th, the game was fairly uneventful. However, “Phillie Killer” Freddie Freeman crushed a ball over the right field fence to cut Atlanta’s deficit to one run and worry Philly fans about the likely possibility of yet another blown lead. In Freeman’s career against the Phils, his slash line is .303/.388/.475. He has also hit 15 home runs and batted in another 66 scores. It is never fun seeing him step into the batter’s box as a Philadelphia fan.
Stop me if this sounds familiar, but Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr contributed to a run in the 7th inning. After a leadoff double from Cesar, a single up the middle from Altherr, and a strike out from Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco hit a soft ground ball to the third baseman. Aaron was safe at second, Franco out at third, and Hernandez was safe at home, giving the Phillies a two-run cushion.
The 8th inning was a matter of 6 up, 6 down. But the 9th brought its fair share of drama.
Hector Neris relieved Joaquin Benoit, who pitched the 8th inning, and nearly became the third Phillies pitcher to blow a save during this young season. Adonis Garcia hit a leadoff homer to left field to make the score 4-3. After Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp were retired, Neris allowed two straight hits to put runners on 1st and 2nd base with two outs. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers worked a full count, intensifying the drama even more, but Hector prevailed–striking out Flowers and earning his second save of the season.
Jeremy Hellickson was the winning pitcher, tossing 7 innings while allowing only 2 earned runs and striking out 5 batters. His ERA for the season sits at a remarkable 1.88. The Phillies take game 1 of the series from Atlanta, and the teams will be back in action tomorrow night.
Photo by Pecan Creek Times (via Flickr)