PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies seem to have finally unlocked the secrets to their own ballpark.
After struggling offensively at Citizens Bank Park for most of the season, they have been hitting the ball much better on their current six-game homestand. That included Monday's 8-2 victory over the Braves on Independence Day. The Phillies pounded out eight extra-base hits, including home runs from Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera, as Jerad Eickhoff pitched superbly through 7 2/3 innings.
"Confidence, man, it's through the roof," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said.
Braves shortstop Erick Aybar hit a solo homer in the first inning to give the Braves the lead, but they got little going after that.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Furious 7: The Phillies scored a season-high seven runs in the second inning. It included six extra-base hits, with doubles from Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph and Peter Bourjos, a triple from Cesar Hernandez and home runs from Herrera and Franco. Franco's homer in the second travelled a projected 448 feet, making it the Phillies' longest of the season. He swung hard and missed on the first pitch in the at-bat, before calming down and crushing the second.
"On that first swing, yes," Franco said with a laugh, acknowledging he wanted to go deep. "But on the second one, I just tried to see the ball and put good contact on it."
"We had a tough inning; [De La Cruz] had a tough inning," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "The whole inning got away from us. He got the ball up a lot in that inning, and some balls were hit pretty hard." More >
Tough stretch for De La Cruz: The Phillies teed off on Joel De La Cruz, who was making his second Major League start. After working around a leadoff double by Herrera in the first, there was no holding the Phillies back in the second. Five runs had crossed the plate by the time De La Cruz recorded the second out of the inning. To his credit, De La Cruz limited the damage -- albeit a lot of it -- to that frame. He got the third out on the 10th batter of the inning, the first in a stretch of retiring 13 of the final 15 Phillies he faced.
"Coming into the dugout after the second inning, I just told myself, 'Man, I was missing some pitches out there,' so I kind of recollected myself to go out there and just keep the ball low, get really aggressive with these at-bats and make the adjustments that you had to," De La Cruz said through an interpreter. "I think that helped me out the remainder of the game, with obviously more of the results I was looking for." More >
Eickhoff keeps rolling: Phillies right-hander Eickhoff has been cruising since the end of May. He is 4-2 with a 2.25 ERA in his last seven starts, including this dominant effort against the Braves. He allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. It marked the first time a Phillies starter pitched more than seven innings since Vince Velasquez's complete game on April 14 against the Padres.
"I feel good," Eickhoff said. "I feel good mechanically and mentally. I'm just going to try and stay right where I want -- not too high and not too low. I'm going to try and help this game any way I can."
Aybar goes deep: Things looked a lot different before the Phillies' second inning. The Braves got off to a quick 1-0 lead when Aybar put the first pitch he saw from Eickhoff over the right-field wall. It was Aybar's first blast of the season and his first as a Brave. The last home run for Aybar came on Oct. 3, 2015, as a member of the Angels.
Since returning from the DL on June 12, Aybar has hit .319 (22-for-69) and posted an .821 OPS.
"He's playing really well," Snitker said. "That's good to see."
"I can't complain about the hitting anymore. I mean, these guys, the hitting continues. It's great to see." -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, on the Phillies' suddenly potent offense
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De La Cruz became the first pitcher to allow eight or more extra-base hits to the Phillies in a game since the Cardinals' Dizzy Dean gave up eight in 14 innings on May 26, 1933, at Sportsman's Park. It was the first time the Phillies had eight extra-base hits in a game since July 26, 2015, against the Cubs. It was also the first time the Phillies began a game with eight consecutive extra-base hits since June 5, 1988, against the Cardinals.
Eickhoff has 18 quality starts in his first 25 career outings, which ties Hall of Fame right-hander Robin Roberts and right-hander Art Mahaffey for the most quality starts through the first 25 starts of a Phillies' career (since 1913). The last two pitchers to have at least 18 in their first 25 starts were the Mets' Jacob deGrom (20) and the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka (19).
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Mike Foltynewicz (2-2, 3.72 ERA) gets to make a proper return from the disabled list. In his last start -- his first back from dealing with bone spurs in his right elbow -- Foltynewicz pitched only three innings, allowing a three-run homer, before an hour-long rain delay. He was pulled when play resumed.
Phillies: Right-hander Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.75 ERA) pitches the second of the three-game series at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Eflin has pitched pretty well since his big league debut on June 14 in Toronto, posting a 2.54 ERA in his last three starts.