The Braves knocked five homers, the biggest blast being a go ahead grand slam by Dan Uggla in the 9th inning, to beat the Phillies 9-6 in a wacky game in Citizens Bank Park despite some horrible bullpen management by manager Fredi Gonzalez.
As the Braves came to bat in the 8th inning this was a 2-1 game, folks. By the time the final out was recorded in the Phillies half of the 9th, the two teams combined for twelve runs, nine hits, five home runs over the final two innings. It was truly a tale of two games.
Braves starter Ervin Santana was excellent yet again. Big Erv went six strong innings, only allowing a single run on a Ryan Howard solo shot in the 2nd. Santana gave up four hits, walked two and tied his career high in strikeouts with eleven over his six innings. That Howard homer is the only run he has given up in his 14 innings pitched in a Braves uniform. He has also struck out 17 batters in those 14 innings.
The Braves finally got on the board in the top half of the sixth inning. Freddie Freeman walked to begin the inning and Evan Gattis knocked an opposite field homer to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. Gattis again homered leading off the 8th inning to stretch the Braves lead out to 3-1. That was followed by Dan Uggla’s first home run of the season, and then Andrelton Simmons made it back to back to back one batter later. All three of the home runs were hit in virtually the same spot and that gave the Braves a 5-1 lead.
Luis Avilan was called upon by Fredi Gonzalez to start the 8th inning. Since 3 of the first 4 hitters were left-handed, it seemed like a pretty good idea. Think again. Luis gave up a walk, a single and another single to load the bases before striking out Ryan Howard. It was pretty obvious that Avilan just didn’t have it tonight, well, obvious to everyone other than Fredi Gonzalez. Fredi left Avilan in to face the right-handed Marlon Byrd and promptly gave up a 2-run single. Still no hook from Fredi. Then, Dom Brown took Avilan deep with a 3-run homer to give the Phillies the 6-5 lead. Still no hook. Avilan did get the final two outs to end the inning, but him even being in there at that point was comical.
Thankfully, the good guys had another plan for the way this game would end. The Upton brothers both walked sandwiched around a fielder’s choice by Freeman to load the bases for the Braves with no one out. Gattis failed to hit his 3rd homer of the game and struck out on 3 strait pitches. That is when Dan Uggla decided he had enough fooling around and planted one deep into the left field stands for his second home run of the game and put the Braves ahead for good at 9-6.
David Carpenter came on in the 9th to close out the Phillies and seal the victory for the Braves. Fredi Gonzalez was extremely lucky that he didn’t flat-out give away the game tonight with his horrible mismanagement of the bullpen. For that matter, he probably shouldn’t even have pulled starter Ervin Santana when he did. Big Erv was cruising and probably could have gone another inning.
The Braves now sit at 9-4 on the season and stay one game ahead of Washington in the NL East. These same two teams will be back at it tomorrow at 7:05 with Atlanta’s David Hale facing off against Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee. Yikes, it’s a good thing the Braves won tonight.