The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Atlanta Braves by a 7-4 score on Thursday night at Turner Field.
For six innings, Phillies starting pitcher Vincent Velasquez was dominating the light-hitting Atlanta Braves lineup. After those first six frames, the Phillies had a 4-0 lead, and Velasquez was coasting along having allowed just two singles.
And then, suddenly and dramatically, the wheels fell off. The Braves bats awoke and ripped Velasquez for three hits and a walk to start the bottom of the 7th, chasing the Phils’ starter and tying the game up shortly thereafter.
The 2015 Phillies might have folded the tent at that point, and surrendered to one of their many defeats. But these ain’t your losing 2015 Phillies. This 2016 version of the club stabilized, and then responded with three runs in the top of the 10th inning to win it.
Velasquez would allow five hits and four earned runs over his six official innings in the end, with five strikeouts and two walks. He was relieved by David Hernandez, who yielded an RBI single to former Phillies fan favorite Jeff Francoeur that tied the game. But Hernandez then got a strikeout and doubleplay ball to keep the game tied.
Manager Pete Mackanin then paraded out Hector Neris, Elvis Araujo, Andrew Bailey (2-0), and Jeanmar Gomez who shut the Braves down on one hit over the final three frames.
The Phils had jumped to the early lead with a run in the top of the 1st inning. Odubel Herrera got the game started by drawing yet another walk. El Torito then stole 2nd base, moved to 3rd on an Andres Blanco single, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco.
The Phillies then pulled away a bit on the strength of a Freddy Galvis 2-run homer and Herrera RBI single in the top of the 4th inning. Herrera would ultimately reach base five times on the night, going 4-4 with a walk, a stolen base, and a pair of runs scored.
“I’m gonna go out on a limb: He’s a good hitter,” Mackanin said per MLB.com writers. “This guy, he’s a potential batting champion at some point. He just has a knack for it.”
Leading 4-0, we moved to the bottom of the 7th, and the Velasquez meltdown. Freddie Freeman singled, Kelly Johnson walked, and A.J. Pierzynski singled to load the bases with nobody out.
Gordon Beckham then ripped a ball up the left-center gap, clearing the bases with a double that made it a 4-3 game and chasing Velasquez. Gomez came on and allowed a game-tying RBI single to Frenchy, and the game would settle into a 4-4 tie that would push into extra innings.
“He just changed his whole approach,” Mackanin said per Aimee Sachs as MLB.com contributor. “Earlier, he started throwing some soft, off-speed secondary stuff. I would have rather he went right after the hitters in that seventh inning, and he just threw too many off-speed pitches. But he’s going through a learning experience. This is pitching in the big leagues, and he’s going to make mistakes.”
In the top of the 10th with Jason Grilli on in relief for Atlanta, Herrera led off with a triple to right field. Blanco was then hit by a pitch, and with one out Braves’ skipper Fredi Gonzalez made another move, bringing in reliever Ian Krol. The righty struck out Darin Ruf, but then walked Galvis to load the bases with two outs.
Krol got up a strike on Cameron Rupp, who came into the at-bat with just four RBI on the season. Rupp delivered big, muscling a double to center field that cleared the bases, answering the earlier Beckham hit for the Braves. The Phillies had a 7-4 lead, and Gomez would come on in the bottom of the 10th to nail down his NL-leading 13th Save.
With the victory the Phillies won the series and finished up their 10-game road trip with a 5-5 record after starting out 1-4. They now return home for a 9-game homestand, and will play 19 of their next 25 games in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.