For all the good that has gone on in the first month and a half of Phillies baseball in this season, games against Atlanta haven’t been among the celebrated.
After a 7-1 beatdown Friday night, the Phillies dropped another to the National League’s worst team on a soggy, rainy day at Citizens Bank Park, this time by a score of 2-0.
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The Phillies, who fell to 24-19 on the year, are now 2-3 against the Braves. They’ve scored just 12 runs in those five games, with a 7-4 win in Atlanta earlier this month serving as an outlier.
Braves starter Williams Perez stymied the Phillies’ offense and bested counterpart Adam Morgan. The 25-year-old Perez tossed six and 1/3 scoreless innings while surrendering just two hits. He walked one - his last batter - and struck out four.
Atlanta scored both of its runs in the fourth inning.
The Phillies had three base runners all game.
Starting pitching report
The line score for Morgan only tells part of the story.
The line: six innings, four hits, two runs (both earned), two walks and one strikeout. He threw 100 pitches, 63 for strikes.
But in lowering his ERA from 6.41 to 5.61, he didn’t look all that great in the process.
The Braves hit the ball hard in every inning. They finally broke through for two runs in the fourth inning and those were plenty.
It could have been worse for Morgan, who was lucky Gordon Beckham’s bullet down the left field line hooked foul one batter after Chase d’Arnaud doubled. A fair ball would have made it 4-0 with nobody out in the fifth inning. Beckham ended up being retired on a hard groundout to Freddy Galvis at shortstop.
Morgan had a rough outing in his previous start last Sunday, tying for his shortest career outing after giving up seven runs on eight hits in three and 2/3 innings.
Andrew Bailey relieved Morgan in the seventh inning. The righty walked Erick Aybar to start the inning before getting Perez to pop out in foul territory. But singles from d’Arnaud and Beckham brought Phillies manager Pete Mackanin to the mound, and he signaled for fellow righty Colton Murray to come on and face Freddie Freeman with two outs in the inning.
Murray promptly walked Freeman before striking out Jeff Francoeur with the bases loaded to end the threat. Murray pitched one and 1/3 shutout innings.
David Hernandez threw a scoreless ninth inning.
At the plate
Perez kept Phillies hitters at bay for much of the afternoon and into the early evening. He retired the first eight batters he faced until David Lough singled with two outs in the third.
The Phillies didn’t have a base runner at second base all game.
Ryan Howard, who batted fifth in the order, went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts before being lifted for pinch hitter Tommy Joseph in the seventh. Howard’s batting average is .091 for the month of May in 44 at-bats. He’s now hitting .161 on the year.
The bats went quietly into the rain in the ninth inning. Arodys Vizcaino struck out the first two batters he faced and induced a flyout from Andres Blanco to pick up his fifth save.
In the field
Each team had its third inning turn at the plate end with wonderful defensive plays on the other end. To end the Braves’ half of the third inning, Lough made a diving catch on a Freeman line drive with a runner aboard. In the Phillies half, with Lough on base, Odubel Herrera smashed a ball that looked and sounded like a base hit to left field, but d’Arnaud snared the ball at third base to deny the Phillies a chance to bat with a runner in scoring position.
A poor decision by Herrera to try and close on a liner into left center by Ender Inciarte resulted in a run-scoring double with one out in the top of the fourth inning that broke a scoreless tie. The Braves scored twice in the inning. It was the second of two unsuccessful diving attempts by Herrera.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning and a 3-1 count to Maikel Franco, Perez lost a fastball that went up and in. Franco, in trying to get out of the way, appeared to get hit near the helmet. He was awarded first base. But the Braves challenged and a pretty quick review revealed the ball first made contact with Franco’s bat.
Franco was called back, the count was moved to full and Franco then walked on the next pitch, ending Perez’s day.
The series concludes Sunday at 1:35 with Phillies righty Jerad Eickhoff (1-6, 4.44 ERA) on the mound. Atlanta has yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s game.
The Phillies hit the road Monday for a road trip to Detroit to face the Tigers and Chicago to battle the Cubs before returning home on Memorial Day to host the Nationals.