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Bad way to start a series: Braves 5, Phillies 3

The ‘Phils drop game one to the Braves despite Wheeler’s quality start.

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Phillies entered this three-game series with the Braves three games behind them for second in the NL East. Sad to say the Phillies are now four games behind Atlanta after the 5-3 loss to the defending world series champions. The ‘Phils sent ace Zack Wheeler to the mound with the Braves throwing Charlie Morton. Unfortunately, Wheeler did not have his best stuff to start this game.

The fireworks began in the first inning when the Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to Travis d’Arnaud and Matt Olson hitting back-to-back homers off of Wheeler. Then the Phillies responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first on a J.T. Realmuto RBI single.

With runners on first and third and one out the Phillies had a chance to tie the game with Didi Gregorius stepping up to the plate. But, a strikeout by Gregorius followed by a Herrera strikeout left the Phillies with two runners on base and a 2-1 deficit.

Now in the top of the third, d’Arnaud stepped back up to the plate and drilled an RBI single to center. The ex-Phillie first-round pick has turned into a Phillie killer right before our eyes. The Phillies had a chance to respond in the bottom of the third when they had runners on first and second and no outs. But, a diving catch by Atlanta’s Adam Duvall forced the Phillies into a double play and all momentum was lost.

The Phillies were able to put runners on base every inning against Charlie Morton but they were never able to cash in. Hitting with runners on base remains a constant issue for this team. Another example came in the fourth when they had runners on first and second with one out and got nothing out of it.

Despite Wheeler’s early struggles he settled in and was dominant down the stretch. After the third inning, Wheeler only allowed two baserunners with one walk and one HBP. He kept the Phillies in the game, waiting for the offense to finally break through.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gregorius hit a one-out triple and then scored on an Odubel Herrera groundout. Down by only one the Phillies had back-to-back two-out hits to put runners on first and third. The Braves made a pitching change and it was Mickey Moniak stepping up with the chance to tie the game or take the lead. Moniak popped up to center and two more runners were left on base.

Wheeler came out to start the seventh and after a groundout, he hit Duvall with a pitch and that was the last batter he faced. His final line included 6.1 innings, five hits, three runs, and eight strikeouts. Corey Knebel finished off the rest of the seventh and the Phillies headed back to the dugout trailing 3-2.

Kyle Schwarber stepped up first in the bottom of the seventh and launched a solo home run to center field. Schwarbs has been on a tear throughout June and for his sake, we need this month to never end.

In the top of the eight Andrew Bellatti came in for the Phillies. After striking out the first batter, Olson came up and hit his second home run of the game. The ‘Phils trailed 4-3 with only six outs remaining.

Sadly, those six outs went away rather quickly as the Phillies did not get a baserunner in the final two innings, and the ‘Phils drop game one of the series. The Braves scored another in the ninth to make the final score 5-3.

Losing a game when Wheeler starts is always concerning, but when the game is against a division rival it hurts a little more. Nevertheless, the Phillies have two more games in this series and they must get it together in hopes of taking two of three from the Braves.

Game two is Wednesday at 7:05 with Kyle Wright starting for the Braves and Ranger Suarez for the Phillies.