Aaron Nola struggled, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley both homered, and the Philadelphia Phillies fell to the Atlanta Braves, 5-4. The Phillies fall to 78-73 on the season and temporarily sit three-and-a-half games behind the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers for the second National League Wild Card spot.
Both Nola and Braves starter Mike Soroka both allowed just one baserunner in the first two innings, and it looked like there could be a pitcher’s duel between the aces of these division rivals.
The game didn’t stay scoreless for long, however.
In the bottom of the third, after Tyler Flowers reached on an infield single and Soroka got him to second on a sacrifice bunt, Acuna Jr. crushed a home run to left field that gave the Braves a 2-0 lead.
After Soroka kept them quiet for the first four innings, the Phillies bats answered back in the top of the fifth. It started with a one-out triple by Scott Kingery, who scored on an Adam Haseley double off the right field wall. Nola moved Haseley to third with a single, and Hernandez got him home on an RBI groundout to first to tie the game 2-2.
The 2-2 tie didn’t stay intact for much time at all.
After pinch-hitter Matt Joyce and Jr. both reached base to start the fifth, Ozzie Albies moved them both into scoring position on a groundout. Freddie Freeman hit the first pitch he saw from Nola to score two, and the Braves took a 4-2 lead.
In the top of the sixth, the Phillies added one back. Bryce Harper got things started with a double down the third base line, and moved to third on a Brad Miller groundout. Jean Segura ripped a ball up the middle that went in and out of Albies’ glove, and Harper scored. However, on his infield hit, Segura appeared to pull his hamstring and was removed from the game.
To start the bottom of the sixth, Riley crushed an opposite-field home run to extend the Braves lead to 5-3. After Nola subsequently gave up a base hit to Rafael Ortega, he was removed from the game in favor of Nick Vincent.
Vincent and Mike Morin combined for three scoreless innings against the Braves, and Braves reliever Chris Martin pitched a scoreless seventh.
In the eighth, the Phillies threatened against Braves mid-season addition Shane Greene. After Rhys Hoskins was hit by pitch, Brad Miller and pinch-hitter Logan Morrison hit back-to-back singles to load the bases with only one out. Scott Kingery hit a deep sacrifice fly to center to score Hoskins and cut the deficit to one. With two outs, Haseley hit the ball hard, but it was right at Freeman at first base and he was able to step on first and end the threat.
The Phillies went down in order against Mark Melancon in the ninth and fell, 5-4. Normally, taking two of three from a team of the Braves pedigree is a great thing. But the Phillies have dug themselves a hole, and they cannot come out of it to make a run at the second Wild Card spot unless they go on a run to end the season.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Aaron Nola: Nola now has a 6.14 ERA in September, continuing the trend started last year of struggling the last month of the season. The Phillies have now lost each of his last six starts, something they have only done once back in June-July of 2016.
His line: 5.0 IP, 9H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4SO
Mike Soroka: Soroka didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday, and the Phillies worked several deep counts because of it. However, they only managed to score two runs against him, and he earned the win.
His line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 5 K
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Ronald Acuna Jr.
Acuna’s home run in the third was his 40th of the season, and he is now just three stolen bases away from the exclusive 40–40 club. The Braves can control the 21-year-old through 2028, meaning he figures to be a thorn in the Phillies side for a long time.
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- Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET vs. Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field
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