The Worst Might Be Over as Phillies Pound Braves for 3rd Straight Win


ATLANTA -- What was that unusual sound in the Phillies' clubhouse late Monday night?

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Ah. Laughter.

Haven't heard it in a while. No reason laugh to when you go 6-22 in May.

But so far in June, the Phillies are a different team. They won their third straight game Monday night, hammering the Atlanta Braves, 11-4, on the strength of three home runs, another big game from resurgent Odubel Herrera and Nick Pivetta's first major-league pitching victory (see Instant Replay).

The Phillies have won three games in a row for the first time since April 20-27 when they won six straight. After that, they went on to lose 26 of their next 32 games before this current win streak.

So, is the worst over?

"Yes," Tommy Joseph said.

"It feels great. Any time you get the chance to win three games in a row is good. Everyone has been playing their part, doing well and we're looking forward to continuing to build on it."

Joseph, Herrera and Aaron Altherr, the Phillies' Nos. 2, 3, and 4 hitters, all had three hits and a homer.

Herrera had two doubles to go with his homer. He has two doubles and a homer in two straight games and eight extra bases hits the last three days -- all wins. He became the first Phillies player in the modern era (since 1900) with multiple doubles in three straight games, per Elias Sports Bureau. In the month of May, he had eight total extra-base and hit just .183.

"It's been pretty awesome to watch," Joseph said of Herrera's hot spell. "Any time he swings the stick, it's a barrel. Good for him. Get him going, a guy at the top of the order that can do so much offensively is a good weapon to have. It's good when he gets going like this."

The Phils averaged just 3.54 runs per game in May -- 28th in the majors -- and were shut out in the first game of June. In the last three games, however, they have scored a total of 25 runs.

They had 13 hits, seven for extra bases, in this game, their first in SunTrust Park, the Braves' new home park. Seven of their runs came against Braves starter Bartolo Colon. The 44-year-old righty is 2-7 with a 7.78 ERA and could be pitching his way out of Atlanta's rotation.

"I really like the ballpark at first sight, beautiful ballpark, and I think our hitters like the ballpark, too," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Especially Odubel, Altherr and Joseph. We swung the bats well. We've been swinging them well for three days and that's great to see.

"Hitting is contagious. When guys start hitting as a group it continues. That's what I'm hoping for."

Missing from the fun was Maikel Franco, the only Phillies' starting position player without a hit. He went 0 for 5 and is hitting .218.

"We need to get Franco going," Mackanin said. "If we get Franco going in the near future we're going to be a much better team.

"Odubel looks like the guy we know he can be and it's great to see. I'm anxious for Franco to get back to where he's supposed to be. He'll get there. He's going to hit 25 home runs and drive in 90 runs and get back where he's supposed to be."

Joseph staked the Phillies to a 3-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first inning against Colon.

That was a nice welcome-back present for Pivetta, who made his last two starts in Triple A after four shaky ones his first time around in the majors.

"The guys played phenomenal behind me," Pivetta said. "They got a quick lead for me out there. It kind of felt like I could relax and really focus on the game."

The 24-year-old right-hander went just five innings and allowed nine base runners, but he limited the Braves to three runs for his first big-league win.

Jeanmar Gomez, Edubray Ramos and Luis Garcia combined on four innings of one-run ball to close it out.

Pivetta got all the customary souvenirs after the win -- a game ball, etc. He also got a ride in a laundry cart and a good dousing of shaving cream, powder and other toiletries as his happy teammates celebrated his win.

"Phenomenal," Pivetta said. "Something like that, it's what you dream of. Just getting that win, having those guys treat you that way. It's fun. Just winning a baseball game. It's always the fun stuff that goes along with it."

"We had a good time with that," Joseph said of the little postgame tribute to Pivetta.

Can the good times keep rolling for a fourth straight game?

We'll see Tuesday night.

The Phillies still have the worst record in the majors and will for a while. But they're playing better. The worst, indeed, might be over.

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