PHILADELPHIA -- Joel De La Cruz walked back to the visitor's dugout at Citizens Bank Park after allowing seven runs and knew the second inning had gotten away from him in Monday's 8-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
So, as the Braves went 1-2-3 in the top of the third, De La Cruz took his time in the dugout to reset. He had been leaving too many pitches -- fastballs, for the most part -- up in the zone.
Cesar Hernandez pulled a slider that was left middle-in down the right-field line for an RBI triple and the Phillies' second run of the game. Odubel Herrera's home run for the Phils' fourth and fifth runs came on a sinker that did not sink. Maikel Franco launched a high fastball over the left-center-field fence to plate the Phillies' sixth and seventh runs.
"We had a tough inning; he had a tough inning," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "It would be easy to cash your chips in that inning, but he got us through six."
After Franco's 448-foot moonshot, De La Cruz got Cameron Rupp -- who doubled to lead off the seven-run second -- to line out to Brandon Snyder at third. That began a stretch of De La Cruz retiring 13 of the final 15 batters he faced. Only a Peter Bourjos double and Cesar Hernandez single prevented him from a perfect final four innings.
The 27-year-old rookie returned to the mound in the third with new life -- both for himself and in his pitches. The second and third times through the Phillies' order, De La Cruz was able to keep the ball low in the zone. Snitker saw some extra movement on his pitches that hadn't been there the first two innings, too.
"I just 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. I'm looking forward to the next outing. I'm confident that it's going to be a better outing right off the bat."
With the Braves' starting staff still shorthanded, Snitker confirmed that De La Cruz is still in line to make his next scheduled start, despite the disastrous second inning.
De La Cruz was originally called upon to take the place of Aaron Blair, who was optioned to Triple-A after posting a 7.99 ERA in seven starts. Having spent most of the last decade in the Minor Leagues, De La Cruz is still getting used to big league hitters.
"When I'm up here, I'm seeing the difference," De La Cruz said. "When you make a mistake, you pay for it. That's how it is up here."
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.