PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Zack Wheeler returned to his All-Star form for seven innings, Bryce Harper stole three bases, including home, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 5-1 Friday night.
J.T. Realmuto hit his 10th homer and Jean Segura had a tiebreaking, two-run double in helping Philadelphia snap a three game losing streak. The Phillies moved ahead of Atlanta into second place in the NL East, four games behind the division-leading New York Mets.
“Right now, we're just going out there and trying to play our game,” Harper said. “We're 1-1 against the Braves right now, we have two more games this weekend against the Braves and then we have to go into Washington.”
Wheeler (8-5) has been stellar at Citizens Bank Park this season, going 5-2 with a 2.08 ERA in 12 starts at the notoriously friendly hitter’s park. He mixed pitches and had the Braves out in front of a lot of pitches. He worked his way out of his biggest trouble in the fifth inning, coaxing Austin Riley to ground out to short to get out of a bases loaded jam. He allowed one run on seven hits, striking out eight while walking two.
It was a reassuring sight for the Phillies, who saw Wheeler allow 11 runs — eight earned — in just 11 2/3 innings during his last two starts.
“When you lose three in a row, you need a win obviously,” Wheeler said. “You need to come in here, pitch a good game, keep runs off the board and make it easy as possible for our guys.”
Freddie Freeman had two hits, including a third-inning RBI single that produced Atlanta’s lone offensive support for Max Fried (7-6).
“You have to hope you throw up some zeros," Braves manager Brian Snitker said about facing Wheeler. "You have to grind away at-bats. Every time you look at his pitch count and it may look up, he regroups. He’s good and he’s a tough ride.”
The Phillies' offense generated enough offense despite going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Realmuto took Fried deep in the first, turning on a fastball and sending it high into the bleachers in left field to record double figures in home runs for the seventh straight season.
Freeman tied it in the third with a single to score Albies, who had a one-out double.
Segura laced an ankle-high, two-strike curveball from Fried just over the third base bag and down the left field line, allowing both Ronald Torreyes and Luke Williams to score to make it 3-1.
“I thought I made a real good pitch and he was able to make the adjustment and put the bat on the ball,” Fried said. “He’s a talented hitter, so you have to move the ball around. That’s just part of the game. We had some opportunities to put up some zeros and I wasn’t able to do that tonight.”
Harper, who went 2 for 3, scored after a productive trip around the bases in the fifth. He hit a leadoff single, stole second, advanced on Andrew McCutchen's groundout and then raced home on the back end of a double steal with two outs after the Braves tried to get Rhys Hoskins at second base.
It was the second steal of home in Harper's career. The first one came against the Phillies' Cole Hamels on May 6, 2012, when he was a member of the Washington Nationals.
“It was the same play except that when Hamels went up, it was go,” said Harper, who is 11 for 11 on steals this year. “Today, it was when Freddie brakes, then it's go.”
Hoskins' double in the seventh scored Realmuto.
Braves: C Travis d’Arnaud had a second day of work on the field as he looks to return from a sprained left thumb sprain that has kept him on the injured list since May 2. The Braves hope d’Arnaud can return during a four-game series next week at the New York Mets.
Phillies: 3B Alec Bohm was reinstated from the IL and back in the starting lineup after being on the COVID-19 list since July 10 after a reported positive test.
LHP Drew Smyly (7-3, 4.50 ERA) of the Braves and RHP Vince Velasquez (3-4, 5.00 ERA) of the Phillies are scheduled to start Saturday night in the third game of the four-game series.
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