The Braves took the first game of a three-game set with the Phillies with an incredible come-from-behind victory that culminated with a Brian McCann line drive to left-center field to score two runs. The veteran worked a deep count against Philadelphia closer Hector Neris before flipping a looping liner that fell just out of reach of left fielder Jay Bruce. Nick Markakis and Austin Riley came around to score the tying and winning runs, giving Atlanta a shocking 9-8 victory.
The game had an inauspicious start for the Braves, long before the heroics of the Atlanta offense in the ninth inning. Max Fried was hit hard by the Phillies, allowing five runs on seven hits over 4 2⁄3 innings with Bryce Harper and Scott Kingery each homering off the left-hander. The Atlanta bullpen and defense did little to hold the Phillies at bay, effectively wasting a sound offensive effort until the comeback was completed. The win lengthens the Atlanta division lead in the NL East to 2.5 games with two more to play versus Philadelphia this weekend. The Phillies won’t be leaving Atlanta with a division lead given tonight’s result.
As mentioned above, Fried was hardly at the top of his game, with Philadelphia jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a Sean Rodriguez single that scored Jay Bruce. That lead would be short-lived as Josh Donaldson quickly answered with a solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the second.
The Phillies struck again in the third inning as Atlanta favorite Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to give the visitors a 3-1 lead, then added another run an inning later on a Scott Kingery solo homer to push their lead to 4-1. In the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, Max Fried uncorked two wild pitches in the midst of a Jay Bruce walk, allowing JT Realmuto to score and give Philadelphia a 5-1 advantage.
Freddie Freeman cut the deficit in the sixth inning with a solo homer against Nick Pivetta, making the score 5-2. The Phillies came right back in the top of the seventh with Rhys Hoskins hitting a two-run homer off Daniel Winkler to push the Philadelphia lead to 7-2. The Braves answered in the bottom of the seventh with two runs, the first on a Brian McCann homer to right field. The second came on a Freeman single to left field, scoring Ronald Acuña, Jr., who had doubled earlier in the inning, to cut the deficit to 7-4.
Once again the Braves pitching staff was unable to quiet the Phillies offense, as a Cesar Hernandez sacrifice fly plated a run in the eighth inning. The Phillies lead stood at 8-4 heading to the bottom of the eighth, before an Ozzie Albies single scored Nick Markakis, then Charlie Culberson tripled to cut the deficit yet again, this time to 8-6. Jerry Blevins worked a scoreless ninth inning to hold the Phillies, which was quite a feat given the multitude of runs allowed by both teams that preceded him.
The bottom of the ninth began with a Dansby Swanson line drive single to left field against Hector Neris. That was followed by a strikeout from Freddie Freeman and a fielder’s choice from Josh Donaldson, leaving Swanson at second base with two outs. A walk to Nick Markakis brought Austin Riley to the plate with runners on first and second. The rookie delivered as he so often has, lining a double to left field that scored Swanson and put the tying and winning runs in scoring position. And then...
Brian McCann stepped to the plate with the distinct possibility that the Phillies would opt to pitch around him, given his recent hot streak and the measured approach of the veteran. Neris fell behind 2-0 before coaxing consecutive swings from McCann on splitters that fell out of the zone. On 2-2 the right-hander threw yet another splitter that McCann served toward left-center field, which fell beyond the reach left fielder Jay Bruce to allow both runs to score and give the Braves an improbable comeback win over the Phillies.
Atlanta now owns a 2 1⁄2 game lead in the division. This team is absolutely incredible, and the revolution of Brian McCann is among the best storylines for the Braves in recent years. Thanks for joining us and WHAT A GAME!