Phillies rally late against Braves lefty for first win of 2024

Phillies rally late against Braves lefty for first win of 2024 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sometimes it’s one hit, sometimes it’s one inch, sometimes it’s one assist from instant replay.

The Phillies rallied from a pair of two-run deficits to score three times in the seventh inning Sunday afternoon and salvage a game they needed against the Braves.

They would have entered the eighth trailing by a run if not for Johan Rojas’ legging out a fielder’s choice that was initially ruled an inning-ending double play. Upon official review, Rojas barely beat it out.

The next batter, leadoff man Kyle Schwarber, lined a single to center to extend the inning, paving the way for Trea Turner’s game-tying RBI single to right and Alec Bohm’s game-winning two-run knock to left.

The Phillies hung on to win, 5-4, avoiding a sweep. Seranthony Dominguez made things interesting by allowing a run and putting the tying and go-ahead runs on the corners with two outs in the eighth, but Gregory Soto popped Matt Olson up on the first pitch he threw. Jose Alvarado closed it out in the ninth, two days after allowing a career-high five earned runs in the season opener.

Schwarber had two important at-bats against lefties, homering off Chris Sale to lead off the bottom of the first and singling off Aaron Bummer with two outs in the seventh. Sale entered with a career .203 opponents’ batting average vs. lefties, Bummer .198. Schwarber got to them both. The day before, he singled off Max Fried to start the first inning.

The Phillies would not have been in position to win if not for Schwarber’s day. He is also moving better than he did a year ago, when lower-body nicks and bruises took their toll. Schwarber stole third base on Saturday and went first-to-third on Turner’s single Sunday.

After scoring 21 runs in the first two games, the Braves took a two-run lead two batters into the series finale on an Ozzie Albies home run. Ranger Suarez threw a curveball to Albies that hung a bit but didn’t end in a poor location. It was right into Albies’ bat path, though, and he lofted it over the wall in left for his second homer in as many days.

Suarez was sharp from there, retiring 11 of the next 12 with seven strikeouts, three of them looking. He kept the game where it was until Atlanta tacked on another on Adam Duvall’s two-out single in the top of the fifth.

Sale made his Braves debut and allowed two runs over 5⅓ innings. Sale was their main pitching addition over the offseason, a lefty to combat the Phillies’ group. Two years in a row, the Braves’ starting staff has been out of gas or injured by October. Sale is no beacon of health himself but should raise Atlanta’s floor and ceiling if he stays on the field.

The final hitter he faced was J.T. Realmuto, who barely missed a go-ahead two-run homer to left-center. The ball would have been a home run in 28 of 30 parks, all except Citizens Bank Park and Camden Yards.

The Phillies sat Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh. It was a scheduled day off for Harper, manager Rob Thomson said, and it was not because of Harper’s scary fall into the camera well early in Saturday’s loss. The Phillies wanted to play it safe with him after he missed nine days late in camp with back stiffness. He played only three Grapefruit League games after March 14.

Marsh sat two days in a row against left-handers Max Fried and Sale but will be back in the lineup Monday against Reds southpaw Andrew Abbott. Stott, who’s hit .285 against lefties since the start of last season, will be back in there as well. Both pinch-hit in the all-important seventh inning, Stott walking to lead it off and Marsh striking out.

The Phillies are 1-2 with a slew of winnable series coming up. Their next 23 games are against the Reds, Nationals, Cardinals, White Sox, Pirates and Rockies — pitching staffs and lineups far inferior to the one they faced on opening weekend.

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