Phillies Chop Up Braves in Opener


5. 6. Final. 2. 17

After a poor start his last time out, Aaron Harang gave the Phillies yet another strong start tonight, and the Fightins shut down the host Atlanta Braves by a 5-1 score at Turner Field. With the win, the Phils recorded consecutive victories for just the 3rd time so far in 2015. Tomorrow they’ll try for the club’s first winning streak of the season.

Harang was brilliant, scattering 5 hits and a walk across 6 innings in which he struck out 2 and allowed just a single earned run. Much as the Phillies originally planned games such as this when they take a lead into the late innings, the bullpen trio of Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Jonathan Papelbon then slammed the door shut on Atlanta.

Offensively the Phillies received the first 4-hit game by Jeff Francoeur in nearly 3 years. The former Braves top prospect and then star outfielder had two singles, a double, and a triple and knocked in two runs. Darin Ruf had 3 hits, and Carlos Ruiz, Ben Revere, and Freddy Galvis each had a pair as the Phils rapped out 14 hits.

More from That Balls Outta Here

The Phils jumped out early, scoring 3 times in the top of the 1st against Atlanta starter Alex Wood (0-0), and it was Francoeur with the big blow. His double with 2-out and 2-on scored Revere and Ruf, each of whom had singled, to make it a 2-0 game. After a walk to Cesar Hernandez, Ruiz singled to score Francoeur, and the Phils had the early 3-0 jump on the Braves.

Wood, a talented young lefty on the Braves staff, just didn’t have it on this night. He allowed 9 hits and walked a pair in 4.1 innings. He threw 90 pitches, just 57 for strikes.

The host Braves got one back in the bottom of the 6th when Andrelton Simmons tripled and was followed by a Freddie Freeman rbi single to cut the Phillies lead down to 3-1. After that 6th inning, manager Ryne Sandberg turned the game over to his bullpen.

The Phils got that run back right away in the top of the 7th when Hernandez’ single with two outs and two on scored Chase Utley to stretch the lead back out to 4-1. Then with two outs and nobody on in the top of the 9th, Ruf and Francoeur teamed to get some insurance, the former doubling and the latter stretching out an rbi triple to make it a 5-1 game.

Papelbon, pitching now in a non-Save situation, yielded a run and allowed Simmons to come to the plate as the tying run in the bottom of the 9th. But the closer got Simmons to hit into a 6-4 fielders choice force out to end it, finishing up the victory with a 5-2 final.

For the Phils it was their 10th victory of the season, a mark that 4 other MLB clubs have still not reached. Tomorrow night, Chad Billingsley is scheduled to come off the DL and make his first big league start since April 15th of 2013, and his first-ever in red pinstripes. The team is 7-3 in their last 10 at Turner Field, and hopes to continue shutting down the Braves fans “Tomahawk Chip” cheer on Tuesday night.

NOTE: to make room for Billingsley, the Phils optioned David Buchanan to AAA Lehigh Valley. Buchanan was a pleasant surprise in the 2014 season, but was awful in April, losing all 5 of his starts and not looking competitive in most of those.