ATLANTA – Pete Mackanin summed up Tuesday night's win rather succinctly.
"We got just enough to win," he said after the Phillies outlasted the Atlanta Braves, 3-2, at Turner Field (see Instant Replay).
Mackanin's words could actually be extended to fit the first 20 percent of this season.
At 19-14, the Phillies are off to an unexpected hot start. A dozen of their wins (against three defeats) have come in one-run decisions.
The Phils are averaging just 3.24 runs per game – the second-lowest mark in the majors – but, as Macaknin said, they're getting just enough to win.
"Just record this and play it over and over," he joked.
The Phillies' last seven wins have all come by a margin of one-run.
Is this team lucky or good?
"You need luck and you need to be good," Mackanin said. "I think we're good and lucky. I'm not saying we're the best. I'm saying we're doing things right and we've got luck on our side."
Overall, the Phils have won three in a row and are 4-4 on this 10-game road trip with a chance to improve to a season-high six games over .500 with a win Wednesday night.
The Phillies' early-season recipe for winning has actually been simple: They've gotten mostly strong starting pitching, good late-innings work from the bullpen, and timely, though not abundant, offense.
On Tuesday night, Adam Morgan provided the starting pitching with seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball.
Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco all drove in runs with Franco's solo homer in the eighth standing as the difference-maker.
Galvis provided some nifty defense as he started a big 6-4-3 double play to help Morgan skirt trouble in the fourth.
The rest of the pitching came from the late-game tandem of Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez. Neris pitched a scoreless eighth and Gomez bobbed and weaved through the ninth for his majors-best 12th save.
"Gomez is Gomez," Mackanin said. "They hit the ball, but he's been outstanding."
Gomez survived a leadoff homer by Freddie Freeman in the ninth inning to get the save.
While the home run made for some anxious moments in the Phillies' dugout, it contributed nicely to the season narrative as it made it a one-run game.
"I don't think we're noticing we're winning by one run," Morgan said. "As long as we get them. We'll take them any way we can get them.
"I knew in spring training this team was an exciting team. Every guy has a lot of energy."
Morgan struggled in his first two starts after being recalled from Triple A late last month. The trip to Atlanta was a welcome one for the 26-year-old lefty. He was raised just up the road in Marietta and saw dozens of games at Turner Field as a kid. Tuesday night's start also came against the only offense in the majors worse than the Phillies. The Braves entered the game averaging just three runs per game.
Morgan (1-0) struggled to put away hitters with two strikes in his last start in St. Louis and did not get out of the fifth inning. He paid particular attention to that in this start.
"I tried to keep it simple and fix the mistakes I made in my last start," he said. "Not giving them too much to hit, 0-2, 1-2, when I'm ahead in the count, being able to put them away or get them to hit a fly ball or a ground ball."
More than two years removed from shoulder surgery, Morgan has added a tick of velocity to his fastball and that has helped him work the inside corner to right-handed hitters. That, in turn, opens up the outside corner for his soft stuff.
"He threw some real good cutters and sliders," Mackanin said. "He did a real good job.
"He's added a little velocity. I like what I've seen from him. I though about letting him go out there [for the eighth], but his previous two starts weren't as good and I didn't want him to lose what he'd accomplished. So he'll take a solid seven innings into his next start."
The only downer for Morgan was that his mom was not in attendance.
"She had a girls' trip to Florida," he said with a laugh.
Atlanta starter Matt Wisler gave up single runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings. The big blow was Franco's solo homer leading off the eighth, a high, arching shot to left on a hanging, first-pitch breaking ball. Franco nearly came out of his shoes when he saw the high pitch spinning toward him.
"That's the thing," Mackanin said. "When you see a mistake out over the plate, we want guys to have at it. One of the things we have to work on is just that. When you recognize a mistake out over the plate – just because you're looking for another pitch, you have to be able to adjust and hit that pitch."
Franco finished the night with three hits. He entered the game hitting just .160 (eight for 50) over his previous 13 games.
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Tuesday night's homer was Franco's seventh of the season. The Braves, who have baseball's worst record at 7-24, have just eight homers as a team.