Suárez, Eflin, Alvarado help Phillies shut out Braves

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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PHILADELPHIA – Ranger Suarez pitched six sparkling innings, and the Philadelphia Phillies continued their push toward the club’s first playoff berth in a decade with a 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

Matt Vierling knocked in the only run in the game with a second-inning sacrifice fly to center that scored J.T. Realmuto.

Suarez allowed five hits, struck out four and walked two. Zach Eflin got five outs before Jose Alvarado finished the six-hitter for his second save.

Philadelphia (82-67) moved within a half-game of San Diego for the National League’s second wild-card spot and remained 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the final playoff berth. The Phillies also hold the season series edge over the Brewers, which is the tiebreaker between the teams this year after Major League Baseball eliminated the single-game tiebreaker under its expanded playoff format.

The Braves (93-57) fell 1 1/2 games behind the idle New York Mets for the NL East lead. The two teams meet in Atlanta next weekend for the final three scheduled games against each other this season. Atlanta has clinched a playoff berth and is presently seeded as the NL’s top wild card.

Atlanta played without outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., who was scratched because of back tightness.

The Braves threatened in the sixth, loading the bases with two out. But Suarez escaped the jam when he retired Michael Harris II on a grounder to first.

Eflin and Alvarado combined to finish the Phillies’ 14th shutout of the season.

Braves starter Max Fried (13-7) struck out eight in five innings. Austin Riley had three hits.

Both teams were affected by high cross-field winds. Two potential home-run balls – one by Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins, and one for Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna – were knocked down at the warning track in left field by the 17-mph winds.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: RHP Mike Soroka will be shut down for the rest of the season due to right elbow inflammation. Manager Brian Snitker said there was no structural damage in Soroka’s elbow and he will gear toward returning for the 2023 season.

Phillies: OF Brandon Marsh was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a left knee contusion. Vierling – who went 5 for 5 in Philadelphia’s 4-3 win over Toronto on Wednesday night – started in center field for Marsh.

UP NEXT

The series continues Friday night with RHP Aaron Nola (9-12, 3.38 ERA) opposing Atlanta RHP Jake Odorizzi (5-5, 4.04 ERA).

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

atlanta braves
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.