09/21 23:25 CDT Braves move to brink of division title, beat Phillies 6-5
Braves move to brink of division title, beat Phillies 6-5
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) --- The Baby Braves are all grown up.
It's almost time to celebrate.
With another gutty performance that pushed Atlanta to the brink of its first NL
East title since 2013, the Braves bounced back from Ronald Acuna Jr.'s
defensive blunder with a five-run seventh inning that carried them past the
Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 Friday night.
Ozzie Albies sparked the comeback with a two-run homer and Johan Camargo
finished it off with a two-out, two-run single, giving the youthful Braves a
chance to celebrate as soon as Saturday afternoon with one more victory over
the second-place Phillies.
"Man, this might be doable,'" manager Brian Snitker deadpanned.
Acuna misjudged Wilson Ramos' liner to left in the top half of the seventh,
turning what should have been an out into a two-run double. Pinch-hitter Jose
Bautista tacked on a run-scoring single, giving the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
It didn't last long.
Tyler Flowers led off the bottom half with a single off Pat Neshek (3-2), and
Albies followed with a drive into the right-field seats for his 23rd homer.
Dansby Swanson walked and Lucas Duda followed with a pinch-hit single before
Neshek finally got an out --- on a grounder that bounced off the third-base bag
and was backhanded by Asdrubal Cabrera, who threw home to get Swanson trying to
That was only a brief respite for the Phillies. Luis Avilan surrendered a
run-scoring double by Ender Inciarte into the right-field corner. With two outs
and the bases loaded, Camargo came through on a 3-2 pitch by lining a single to
left to put the Braves ahead for the first time all night .
"There's an 'it' factor with teams," Snitker said. "You don't know how they get
it. But when they've got it, it's really something special."
Acuna and Inciate celebrated at home plate, while Camargo pumped his fist
emphatically at first, knowing he had pushed the Braves another step closer to
the postseason. The Phillies dropped 7 1/2 games behind the Braves, while the
Washington Nationals were eliminated from the division race.
After their last NL East title, the Braves went through a massive rebuild that
led to three straight 90-loss seasons. With some of baseball's brightest young
stars, including 21-year-old Albies and 20-year-old Acuna, they're pushing for
the playoffs far sooner than most people expected.
Julio Teheran and Freddie Freeman are the only holdovers from Atlanta's last
"We were talking about it the other day," Teheran said. "It's been a while
since the last time we did this. We're excited. We have a new team. I'm excited
to see the guys do it for the first time. It's going to be different for me. I
was a rookie the last time we did it."
After giving up a leadoff homer to Cesar Hernandez, Teheran turned in one of
his best outings of an inconsistent season. He didn't allow another hit until
pinch-hitter J.P. Crawford started the sixth with a triple off the right-field
Teheran escaped that jam by striking out Roman Quinn, getting Hernandez on a
grounder to second and retiring Rhys Hoskins on a fly ball to right.
But the Braves defense let Teheran down in the seventh. With one out, Justin
Bour walked and Carlos Santana singled before Ramos sent a liner to left field
for what should have been the second out. Acuna completely misjudged the ball,
however, realizing too late that it was over his head.
After a futile leap, the rookie had to go all the way to the wall to retrieve
it, as both runners raced home to break a 1-all tie.
Jonny Venters (4-0) claimed the win by getting the final two outs in the
seventh. A.J. Minter earned his 15th save despite giving up a run in the ninth
, striking out Quinn to end the game with a runner aboard.
After a very effective season, Neshek had one of his worst outings.
The side-arming right-hander was charged with four runs while recording just
one out, bouncing his ERA from 1.16 to 2.66.
Neshek claimed home-plate umpire Gerry Davis missed several pitches that should
have been called strikes.
"When you leave it in thee ump's hands, that can happen," Neshek said. "It just
didn't go my way."
The Braves will likely want former closer Arodys Vizcaino to pitch in
back-to-back games before deciding whether he deserves a spot on a postseason
Vizcaino has allowed three hits and two runs in three innings since returning
from the disabled list a week ago, but he had his most impressive performance
with a scoreless inning against the Phillies in the series opener Thursday.
The hard-throwing right-hander had 15 saves before he went on the DL with
shoulder inflammation. He missed 55 games.
The Braves are skipping LH Sean Newcomb's spot in the rotation, moving up RH
Mike Foltynewicz (11-10, 2.90 ERA) to make Saturday's start against Phillies RH
Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.77 ERA).
Newcomb has a 7.44 ERA over his last seven starts, endangering his spot in the
possible playoff rotation after he spent much of the season as one of Atlanta's
most effective pitchers. Newcomb will be available out of the bullpen for the
remainder of the weekend but could still make another start in the final week
of the regular season, according to Snitker.
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