ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a grounder in the seventh inning to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.
The Braves, who opened the season with four consecutive losses, have recovered with a four-game winning streak, including the first two games of this series against the NL East rival Phillies. Atlanta’s 0-4 start included three losses in Philadelphia.
Pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza‘s double off Archie Bradley (0-1) started the seventh. Ronald Acuna Jr. singled, moving Adrianza to third.
Freeman hit a one-out grounder that left-hander Jose Alvarado fielded on the mound. Alvarado looked to second, but with the infield drawn in for a play at the plate, no fielder was covering the bag. Alvarado then threw late to the plate. Adrianza scored without a slide.
“You’ve got to put the ball in play sometimes and I was able to get one to Alvarado,” Freeman said.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi said he approved of Alvarado looking to second in hopes of starting a double play. He said the problem was shortstop Didi Gregorius broke for the grounder instead of covering second base.
“If you have a chance to turn a double play, I’m OK with you turning the double play,” Girardi said. “The thing is Didi’s instincts took him to the ball and Alvarado has no way to know.”
Adrianza also thought Alvarado was going to throw to second base.
“That’s why I didn’t slide,” Adrianza said. “Thank God I scored the run.”
Sean Newcomb (1-0) had strikeouts on four of his six outs in relief of Ian Anderson. The right-hander yielded four runs in 5 1/3 innings and gave up homers to Andrew McCutchen in the fifth and Bryce Harper in the sixth.
Will Smith pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.
Each starter endured a long first inning.
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead on a two-run single by Gregorius. It was Philadelphia’s third consecutive single off Anderson, who walked McCutchen to open the game.
The lead didn’t survive the inning. Acuna doubled down the first-base line and scored on a double off the right-field wall by Ozzie Albies. Freeman’s two-run homer gave Atlanta a 3-2 lead before Zach Eflin recorded an out.
Freeman’s homer was his third overall and second in two days.
It was an ominous start to the game for the Phillies, who had not had a pitcher last longer than five innings since Eflin allowed one run in seven innings last Sunday against Atlanta.
After giving up the two-run single to Gregorius, Anderson struck out Jean Segura and Andrew Knapp to start a string of 13 consecutive outs before McCutchen’s tying homer to left field with two outs in the fifth.
Braves: RHP Chris Martin was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation after experiencing continued discomfort in a workout on Friday. He left Sunday’s relief appearance at Philadelphia due to numbness in his fingers. When asked about Martin’s shoulder, manager Brian Snitker said, “When he went and tried to throw yesterday, all of a sudden it became a concern.” RHP Jacob Webb was recalled from the alternate training site.
ADRIANZA’S WEEK TO REMEMBER
Adrianza was reinstated from the restricted list before Friday night’s game, just in time for his first pinch-hit homer, a three-run shot. He had been away from the team while completing his citizenship test. Then he added the pinch-hit double and go-ahead run on Saturday night.
“I’m glad to be a U.S. citizen,” said Adrianza, 31, a native of Venezuela who played the last four seasons with Minnesota following four seasons with San Francisco.
After giving up three runs in the first, Eflin posted four consecutive scoreless innings before Dansby Swanson‘s double in the sixth drove in Marcell Ozuna, who singled, for a 4-all tie.
Eflin gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings. Girardi said Eflin had a “really good” recovery following the first inning. “He threw the ball well tonight,” Girardi said.
Left-hander Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.00 ERA) will make his first home start for Atlanta when he faces left-hander Matt Moore (0-0, 5.40) in the finale of the three-game series Sunday night.