PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Brandon Marsh homered, Jake Cave hit a two-run triple and the Philadelphia Phillies spoiled Matt Olson’s 50th homer and salvaged a doubleheader split with a 7-5 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
The Braves, who have secured at least a wild card and reached the postseason for the sixth straight year, need to win the final two games of the series to clinch the NL East in Philadelphia.
Olson hit a three-run homer off the second deck in the third and added a solo shot for his MLB-best 50th in the sixth, both off Phillies starter Michael Lorenzen (9-9). Olson had already set career-highs in homers and RBIs with 127, a key reason why a sixth straight division title will soon belong to the Braves. Andruw Jones holds Atlanta's single-season record with 51 in 2005.
The Phillies are doing what they can to hang on to the top spot in the NL wild-card race and home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The reigning NL champs entered with a 1 1/2-game lead on the Chicago Cubs.
Cave’s triple in the third made it 5-3 and spoiled right-hander Kyle Wright’s first start since May 3. Wright (0-2) had been on the 60-day injured list with a strained right shoulder. A 21-game winner last season, Wright was lit up from the start. He faced eight batters and allowed four runs in the first inning, with Edmundo Sosa doing the most damage on a two-RBI double off the left-field wall.
Lorenzen, who hasn’t pitched out of the sixth since his Aug. 9 no-hitter, gave up four runs in five innings.
Unlike the opener, when the Phillies' bullpen surrendered four runs, Lorenzen was helped by four relievers, who tossed four innings of shutout ball. Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth for his 23rd save.
"I think we’re just going through a period and we’ll work it out,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said of the bullpen after the opener. “They need to get some rest. It’s tough to get rest right now, we get to that off day, and we’ll be fine.”
The bullpen just needed to get to the second game.
Kevin Pillar and Orlando Arcia each had run-scoring hits in the 10th off José Alvarado (0-2) in the first game. The Braves needed extras after Bryce Harper tied the game with a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth.
“I was hoping that we’d go three up, three down because I didn’t want to see him come up with a guy on,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said with a laugh. “But that’s great, the way the guys fought back.”
The Phillies came up empty in the 10th against Kirby Yates, who earned his fourth save.
The Braves would love to clinch the division on the same Citizens Bank Park field where they were eliminated by the Phillies in last season’s NL Division Series. Atlanta’s five-year division title run is the longest active streak in baseball.
Yes, the Phillies — and their fans — point to that NLDS as proof that the regular season can seem inconsequential in October. The Braves won 101 games and the Phillies 87. But Philadelphia needed just four games in a lopsided series to move on and eventually reach the World Series.
The Braves won their MLB-best 94th game on Monday and are clicking like a team with serious World Series aspirations. They are +240 to win the World Series, easily the best odds to win it of any team, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
WHAT DAY OFF?
Monday was scheduled as an off day for both teams.
But when the NFL schedule was released and the Eagles were slotted to play their home opener Thursday night, the Braves-Phillies game was shifted to Monday. When the scheduled June 21 game in Philadelphia was rained out, the teams were forced to play a doubleheader.
The Braves send LHP Max Fried (7-1, 2.70 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday against Phillies RHP Zach Wheeler (11-6, 3.49 ERA).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB
Dan Gelston, The Associated Press