After a minor blip Tuesday the Atlanta Braves returned to the form that has vaulted them to the verge of the National League East division title, and head into Thursday's contest at the Philadelphia Phillies seeking a series victory and another strong pitching performance. One night after starter Max Fried gave up five runs, Dallas Keuchel pitched six solid innings and three relievers held the lead in a 3-1 victory Wednesday that dropped the Braves magic number to eight.
In a game where the two teams combined for just 12 hits, Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers belted a three-run homer with two outs in the fourth inning and second baseman Ozzie Albies went 2-for-5 to give him hits in seven of his past eight games, as the Braves improved to 19-4 in their past 23 games. The only negative for Atlanta was infielder/outfielder Johan Camargo - who was 5-for-11 with two homers since being recalled from the minors - left in the fourth inning with a right shin contusion after fouling a ball off his leg. The Phillies began Wednesday two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the final NL wild card spot, but only could muster five hits and scored their lone run on a Scott Kingery fielder's choice in the fourth, falling for the fifth time in their past eight games. Catcher J.T. Realmuto went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, but is 10-of-29 with four homers, six runs scored and eight RBIs in his past seven games.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Julio Teheran (10-8, 3.31 ERA) vs. Phillies LH Drew Smyly (4-6, 6.20)
Teheran continued Atlanta's recent run of excellent starting pitching by holding Washington to one run on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts over six innings Saturday. The 28-year-old has allowed just three runs across 25 innings in his past four starts with a .167 opponents batting average with 14 hits allowed in that span. Teheran gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits over five innings in his only appearance against the Phillies this season on March 28, and lifetime is 9-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) in the series.
Smyly has pitched well in two September starts, allowing one run on eight hits with 14 strikeouts over 12 1/3 innings while beating Cincinnati and the New York Mets. The 30-year-old signed with the Phillies on July 21 and is 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA in nine starts, including a rough August in which he went 0-1 in five starts with a 7.20 ERA and nine homers allowed across 25 innings. Smyly, who went 1-5 with an 8.42 ERA and 1.91 WHIP in 13 games (nine starts) with Texas before being released, has pitched once in his career against Atlanta - striking out the only two hitters he faced in 2013 with Detroit.
1. Phillies LF Corey Dickerson, who has three homers in the series, left the game after grounding out in the sixth with a sore left foot.
2. Atlanta RF Nick Markakis took batting practice Wednesday with no issues and could be activated from the injured list (left wrist fracture) as early as this weekend at Washington.
3. Braves RHP Chris Martin pitched an immaculate inning in the seventh (nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts), the first for the franchise since Buddy Carlyle on July 6, 2007 against San Diego.