On Friday in Clearwater, the Phillies blew a sizable lead, walking six batters in the 8th and 9th innings combined, but did not quit and held on to lock down a shocking win over the Braves by a score of 12-11.
Early on, third baseman Maikel Franco was the top offensive performer for the Phils, as he went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI. The strong effort takes Franco’s spring average to .364.
— MLB (@MLB) March 4, 2016
Flame thrower Luis Garcia struggled, as he was charged with four earned runs on five hits and two walks in one inning pitched. Hector Neris loaded the bases in the ninth and walked in a run before the team called on youngster Edubray Ramos to close out the game, clinging to a 9-8 lead. Ramos would walk home the tying run and then a Darnell Sweeney throwing error, his second miscue of the day, allowed two more runs to score, putting the Braves ahead 11-9 in a game they trailed by a score of 9-3 after seven innings.
In the bottom of the 9th, shortstop J.P. Crawford and first baseman Brock Stassi each singled to set up outfielder Cedric Hunter for the dramatic walk-off. With a 1-2 count and two outs, Hunter sent a big fly over the grass berm in right field to put the Phillies at 2-2 on the young exhibition season.
Hunter was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training in January. The 27-year-old played at the Triple-A level for the Braves last season.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr left the contest with a wrist injury he suffered on a diving catch attempt in the opening frame.
Starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson struck out five batters, walking none while allowing an earned run in two innings of work.
The Phils are set to return to action on Saturday, when they visit the Blue Jays in nearby Dunedin at 1:07 PM.