By Mark Bowman and Nick Suss
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
PHILADELPHIA -- Cameron Rupp and Freddy Galvis each drilled three-run homers to provide Aaron Nola more than enough support as he bounced back from a rough first inning to lead the surging Phillies to a 12-2 win over the Braves on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Rupp's fourth-inning home run off Matt Wisler's first-pitch slider provided the Phillies a lead they would not relinquish on the way to improving to 12-2 since the All-Star break. Nola surrendered Nick Markakis' third career leadoff home run during a two-run first inning and then ended his five-inning performance with four consecutive scoreless innings.
"When you get a lot of hits, it always looks like there is energy," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said of his team's recent offensive outburst. "When you face a tough pitcher that's really doing a good job then everybody likes to say that there's no energy. But our guys have not let down and they look like, they feel like, they're going to win which is a nice feeling"
The Braves, who have lost six straight and nine of their past 10 games, were not as fortunate with their rookie starter. Wisler surrendered a career-high seven earned runs and allowed eight hits before exiting with two outs in the fifth inning. He had allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his previous seven career starts.
"[The Rupp home run] really changed the whole game," Wisler said. "Eight-hole hitter with the pitcher on deck, I've got to execute that pitch better. That cost us pretty badly."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Howard surge:Ryan Howard has been showing shades of his former self as of late, dominating opposing pitching over his seven-game hitting streak. With three hits Saturday, Howard improved his total over the streak to 12 and is batting .462 in the stretch. Perhaps the finest indicator of how well he has been playing came in the sixth inning when, with runners on second and third and one out, Howard was intentionally walked for the first time since April 16.
"If you've been watching all year I've had some good swings, I've had some bad swings and good stretches where I haven't had balls fall in, but had really good swings," Howard said. "So now it's being able to find real estate." More >
Rookie woes: As the Braves carry three rookies in their starting rotation, they will be subjected to the growing pains Wisler experienced as he struggled with his offspeed pitches and was forced to rely on his fastball while frequently getting into hitter's counts. He recorded strikes with just five of the 15 sliders he threw through the first four innings. But the slider he hung to Rupp caught enough of the plate to propel the Phillies. More >
Supporting the rookie: The Phillies must've felt guilty for being shut out in Nola's Major League debut, because the team has provided plenty of run support for the rookie in starts two and three. After scoring 11 runs on Sunday in Chicago, tying a then-season high, the Phillies set a new season high with 12 runs on Saturday, earning Nola his second career win.
"It's pretty amazing to watch," Nola said. "Those guys, they're averaging so many hits and runs a game. As a pitcher it's awesome to go out there and step on the mound and throw when you have a lead, especially that big of a lead that the guys are putting up."
More offensive woes: Tallying a pair of first-inning runs and then going scoreless the rest of the way simply added to the frustration the Braves have felt while totaling 16 runs over their past 10 games. They recorded three hits -- Markakis' homer, a Freddie Freeman double and A.J. Pierzynski's RBI single -- before Nola recorded his second out. But they added just three more hits the rest of the night.
"Every single day, we come to the yard, just hoping for something to click," Freeman said. "When you get off to a nice start in the first inning like that, you think it's going to be the day, but obviously it wasn't today. So, we've got to come back tomorrow and hopefully, it changes."
"I keep teasing him. Everybody else is hitting home runs and he's hitting singles and doubles. I don't know. How do you explain it?"-- Mackanin, on Howard's hot streak
"You've got to develop a winning attitude and losses like this aren't good for anybody." -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, on the Braves' losing skid.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Braves have attempted to match David Aardsma up in favorable situations, but they were unable to do so when he was forced into long relief duty on Saturday. Aardsma surrendered more runs (five) during the sixth inning than he he had in the 20 previous innings since joining the Braves in June.
Andrelton Simmons injured his right thumb diving for Odubel Herrera's single to shallow left field in the seventh inning. The Braves shortstop did not return in the eighth inning. X-rays were negative, but the club will not update his status until Sunday morning. More >
Braves:Julio Teheran will attempt to lower his 7.24 road ERA when Atlanta and Philadelphia conclude this four-game series on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. Howard and Domonic Brown could pose a problem for Teheran, who has allowed a .309 batting average to left-handed hitters this year..
Phillies: After setting a career high in innings pitched last time he faced the Braves, Adam Morgan will take the hill for the Phillies. Morgan is 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA this season. With a win Sunday, the Phillies could execute their fourth sweep of the season and third since the All-Star break.