The Philadelphia Phillies will be searching for their fifth consecutive victory when they host the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
The Phillies pushed their winning streak to four with a dramatic 7-4 win in 11 innings Friday following a three-run walk-off home run by Scott Kingery with two outs.
“I’ve been saying that he’s (Kingery) been swinging the bat better,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I think we saw that (Friday).”
Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura each added a two-run home run on Friday as the Phillies found another way to win.
The Phillies’ bullpen was the worst in the National League as they careened to a 9-14 record. A couple of trades to shore up the bullpen has helped result in four consecutive wins.
Adam Morgan allowed two solo home runs to Ender Inciarte and Austin Riley but Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman and Blake Parker combined to toss five shutout innings.
“I do feel better because I believe that guys are starting to throw better and are much more experienced,” Girardi said. “And, you know, Ranger (Suarez) is coming back. He had an outstanding year last year. So I definitely think it’s kind of falling into place a little bit more than it was before.”
The Phillies will hand the ball to right-hander Zach Eflin for his fifth start. Eflin is 1-1 with a 5.12 ERA but has allowed 11 runs over his last 15 1/3 innings.
Over Eflin’s career, he’s 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA in eight starts against the Braves.
The Braves had swept a doubleheader against the New York Yankees heading into this opener of a three-game series against the Phillies.
Veteran Josh Tomlin will look to even the series when he takes the mound on Saturday with a 1-1 mark and a 3.93 ERA in 18 1/3 innings.
It will be Tomlin’s third start since being moved from the bullpen.
“You never really lose that starter mentality,” Tomlin said. “You just go to the bullpen and kind of develop a new mentality for that particular role you’re in. But I’ve started for eight or nine years of my career, so this isn’t anything new to me.”
Tomlin said that he isn’t concerned about his pitch count.
“My job is to go out and pitch in the first inning, go back out there and pitch the second and then go from there,” Tomlin said. “When (Braves manager Brian) Snitker comes out there and takes the ball from me, I’m done. And then take the next step.”
Riley and Freeman had two hits apiece and the Braves managed nine hits overall. But the Braves struggled with runners in scoring position, going 1 for 14. They also stranded 10 runners on base.
Still, Atlanta’s offense has proven all season it can score runs in bunches.
“These guys keep grinding,” Snitker said. “We’ve lost chunks of our lineup. We’ve lost big chunks of our starting rotation. They just keep playing.”
In Friday’s loss, Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis combined, however, to go hitless in 10 at bats.
–Field Level Media