Harris, Olson help Braves snap skid, beat Phillies 6-3

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PHILADELPHIA — Michael Harris II and Matt Olson homered, Austin Riley stretched his hitting streak to 18 games and the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 to end a two-game skid.

Dansby Swanson added three hits and Spencer Strider was sharp over six innings as Atlanta remained the only team in baseball without a three-game losing streak this season.

“We know that every day is its own day and you have to prepare to win every night,” Swanson said. “That’s what we do. We’re professionals here.”

Strider (5-3) allowed three hits and a run as Atlanta improved to 36-13 since June 1.

Manager Brian Snitker earned his 500th victory, all with the Braves.

“It is a great group of guys to be a part of,” Snitker said. “We had a little champagne toast afterward (in the clubhouse) and that was nice. I’m proud to be here and to have done it all here with the Braves. This is my home.”

Riley had two doubles and an RBI. Since July 5, Riley is hitting .444 (32 for 72) with nine doubles, eight homers and 16 RBIs.

Kyle Schwarber‘s NL-leading 31st homer in the sixth inning got the Phillies on the board while J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run homer off reliever Will Smith in the ninth inning to make things interesting.

Kenley Jansen came on and got two outs for his 23rd save.

Alec Bohm had two hits for the Phillies, who have lost four of five games at home since the All-Star break.

“Strider had good stuff and threw strikes,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said. “He kept us off-balance with the slider. He’s got a good arm.”

Riley got the Braves scoring started in the first inning off starter Aaron Nola (6-8), drilling a double to left center that scored Swanson. Harris led off the third with a solo homer to right, and Olson connected for a two-run homer in the fifth.

Four of the seven Braves hits off Nola went for extra bases. In his two starts against Atlanta this season leading into Tuesday night, the right-hander allowed just three extra-base hits combined in two wins.

Nola – one of Philadelphia’s two aces along with Zack Wheeler – was making his first start in nine days due to the All-Star break. Thomson said the Phillies wanted to give him some extra rest. Instead, there was early rust that allowed Atlanta to take advantage of some early mistakes.

“I was just out of whack,” Nola said. “A lot of my fastballs were running over the middle of the plate. Just not great pitches.”

Strider worked the corners well, inducing eight fly-ball outs that often were weakly hit by a Philadelphia lineup that has struggled to get any consistency. It was sharper than his four-inning, five-earned run performance in his last start July 17 at Washington.

“My game isn’t about contact, but getting ahead and forcing them to catch up,” Strider said. “We got a lot of fly-ball outs and that’s a result of the fastball and getting ahead.”

Schwarber’s home run – a line drive that streaked over the wall in deep left-center feld – was the only sign of vulnerability by Strider, who struck out six and walked one.

Bohm extended his hitting streak to 11 games. In that stretch, he is 18 for 37 (.486) with two homers and seven RBIs. Aside from Bohm, Philadelphia’s collective batting average since July 8 is .200 (86 for 431).

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: INF Jean Segura (broken finger) began his rehab assignment Tuesday night, going 0 for 3 with a strikeout in the designated hitter role for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Segura – who was originally projected out until September after breaking his finger on a bunt attempt on May 31 – could be ready to return in Atlanta next week when his 60-day IL clock runs out.

UP NEXT

The Braves send RHP Charlie Morton (5-4, 4.20 ERA) to the mound against Phillies RHP Kyle Gibson (5-4, 4.69) in the rubber match Wednesday. Atlanta has lost seven of eight series finales dating to June 26.

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.