Bats break out after rain delay in Braves' win

Bats break out after rain delay in Braves' win

ATLANTA -- A 24-minute rain delay cut Jerad Eickhoff's impressive start short on Sunday at Turner Field, and the Phillies ultimately paid the price, as Jeff Francoeur's two-run homer in the seventh inning propelled the Braves to a 2-1 win and a series split.

"It was nice," said Francoeur about his homer. "I got a pitch up in the zone. I put a couple good swings on the first few. The first one, if I'm in Philly, I've got a homer. But this was a good win for us. When you have an opportunity to split the series, you want to, but especially when you've got [Joel] De La Cruz going 50 pitches."

Eickhoff picked up right where he left off in his start against the Marlins on Tuesday, allowing no runners to reach base until Jace Peterson broke up the right-hander's perfect outing with a leadoff single in the fourth inning. Eickhoff didn't allow the base hit to deter him, however, as he retired five of the next six batters he faced before the rain delay in the middle of the sixth ended his day after just 51 pitches.

Eickhoff's five strong frames

"It was definitely unfortunate," Eickhoff said. "I was looking to get right back out there. I had some quick innings. I think I had a relatively low pitch count. It was frustrating. But you can only control what you can control."

With Eickhoff out of the game, Atlanta took advantage. Nick Markakis reached base on a one-out single in the seventh before Francoeur hit his seventh home run of the season in the ensuing at-bat to give his team a 2-0 lead. Jimmy Paredes led off the top of the eighth with his third homer of the year, but the Braves held on to improve to 5-8 vs. Philadelphia this year.

Francoeur's heroics: With his two-run homer on Sunday, Francoeur notched his fourth home run in his previous 45 at-bats. The blast marked his only hit of the contest, as the outfielder is batting just .196 (9-for-46) with 19 strikeouts over his past 14 games. Despite his average, though, Francoeur's recent knack for the long ball and his leadership skills could still make him a possible trade target before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Francoeur on go-ahead home run

"[It was] a big hit," said Peterson about Francoeur's homer. "He's a guy who comes to the clubhouse every day the same guy. He keeps the energy up, and we know in those situations he's the guy we want at the plate. He's down 0-2 there, [Andrew Bailey] leaves one over the middle and Frenchy was able to poke it out." More >

The middle's struggles: The Phillies managed just five hits against the Braves, and it was a rough week for the middle of their lineup. Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph batted 2-3-4 for most of the four-game series, but they hit a combined .149 (7-for-47) with two home runs and six RBIs. They were a combined 2-for-11 on Sunday.

De La Cruz delivers: In his first start since July 4 vs. the Phillies, Joel De La Cruz pitched 4 1/3 solid innings, surrendering only three hits and two walks. The Atlanta starter entered the day with an 0-2 record and a 5.25 ERA in his first two Major League starts, but he gave his team exactly what it needed in the wake of Lucas Harrell being traded to the Rangers earlier in the week. Having pitched 2/3 innings of relief on Thursday night, De La Cruz became just the fourth Braves pitcher since 2000 to go at least 4 1/3 shutout innings in a start on two days' rest or less.

De La Cruz's solid outing

"He did a really good job," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He was out on the attack and his stuff was live, I thought. [He had] a really good sinker, was on the attack and was very aggressive. He made the most of the opportunity and kind of came up big for us."

Bailey's woes continue: Phillies right-hander Bailey allowed the two-run homer to Francoeur in the seventh. Bailey has a 10.43 ERA (17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings) in his last 15 appearances after posting a 3.06 ERA in his first 18.

"I'm battling some things, obviously," Bailey said. "I felt like I made some good pitches that inning. It's just kind of the way it's going for me right now. Clearly, I'm struggling. It's frustrating to be going through this, especially when Eick's start gets cut short. They needed me to step up and throw a zero. There's nothing to do but keep working and grinding it out. Got to finish strong for sure."

"I thought it was more important to get him out of there and not take any chances. He sat for a half an hour. You know, the rest of the pitchers have a job to do. They've got to do their job. They're getting paid. It's as simple as that." -- Mackanin, on the decision to pull Eickhoff following the rain delay

The Phillies went 4-6 on their road trip through Pittsburgh, Miami and Atlanta. They hit just .151 (13-for-86) with runners in scoring position.

Phillies: The Phillies do not play Monday, but they resume action Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies rookie Zach Eflin (3-4, 4.23 ERA) faces Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.09 ERA). They are the only three home games the Phillies play in a stretch of 19 games in 20 days.

Braves: Following an off-day on Monday, Atlanta will welcome the Pirates as well as new addition Matt Kemp to Turner Field for a three-game series beginning on Tuesday. Mike Foltynewicz will receive the start for the Braves, looking to rebound from his most recent outing, in which he surrendered a season-high seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits vs. the Twins. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. ET.

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Pat James is a reporter for based in Atlanta.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.