Will Smith gives up walk-off homer as Braves blow chance to be over .500

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. walks off the field following the team's baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 2-1. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. walks off the field following the team's baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Philadelphia. The Phillies won 2-1. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

On the cusp of owning a winning record for the first time this season, the Braves were vanquished by one pitch. Phillies newcomer Luke Williams hit a walk-off two-run homer off Will Smith, sending the Braves to a 2-1 loss Wednesday in Philadelphia.

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Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. In the ninth, Smith issued a one-out walk to Andrew McCutchen. He generated an infield popout from Brad Miller in the next at-bat, putting the Braves on the doorstep of a 1-0 win.

Two pitches later, Williams, a versatile 24-year-old player promoted from Triple-A Tuesday, blasted a Smith slider into the stands to end the game. The Braves’ hard-fought effort left them empty handed. And they once again failed to win a game when holding a .500 record.

“It’s hard to win a major-league game; it’s really easy to lose one,” manager Brian Snitker said.

2. Catcher William Contreras has been an offensive force in Philadelphia. He’s 6-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs across consecutive three-hit performances. While much of the conversation has centered on Contreras’ growing pains defensively, it shouldn’t overshadow what he’s done offensively.

Contreras, 23, seems to have the potential to one day be a top-five offensive backstop in the majors. The past two nights have shown him at his best offensively.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tucker Davidson follows through during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tucker Davidson follows through during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

3. Once again, the Tucker Davidson and Contreras combination was successful. Davidson, making his third start this season and first on the road, participated in a pitchers’ duel against Phillies righty Zach Eflin.

Davidson finished his outing by striking out Alec Bohm on a pitch in the dirt to end the sixth. He leaped and yelled as he walked off the mound, finishing what he acknowledged as his best start to date.

“Just because it was on the road in a different environment,” Davidson said. “Coming to Philadelphia is not an easy task. They’re a good team, good organization. This was my first road trip, so all the emotions of that. It was like another debut. It was a good outing. I’m happy with it.”

4. Davidson allowed four hits and struck out four over six scoreless innings. He issued only one walk, a notable improvement after walking five in his previous outing. In three starts overall, Davidson has allowed three runs over 17-2/3 innings, giving him a 1.53 ERA. Opponents are hitting .164 against him.

“I’ve been impressed all three (starts),” Snitker said. “The tempo, the strikes, the quality of pitches. He’s been really, really good. I like how he attacks hitters. He works quick, throws strikes. His secondary stuff has been really good. There’s a lot to like there.”

5. Second baseman Ozzie Albies went 3-for-4 with a triple. Albies has a hit in seven of eight games in June, including five multi-hit performances. He’s doubled or tripled in each of those games.

Albies has 32 extra-base hits, tied for the most in the National League, and is on pace to challenge the Atlanta record for extra-base hits. Chipper Jones set the Atlanta record with 87 in 1987. Hank Aaron owns the all-time franchise record with 92 in 1959.

Phillies 2, Braves 1 (box score)

Stat to know

0-5 (The Braves are 0-5 when playing with a .500 record this season. In fact, they’ve always followed up a .500 record with multiple losses.)

Quotable

“We still haven’t gotten on a good run yet. If we follow this loss up with four or five wins, I’ll change my tune. But we haven’t done that yet. ... We need to get on a nice little run here at some point. And we will before the year is over. We still have, what, three and a half to four months to do it?” - Snitker

Up next

Braves right-hander Ian Anderson (4-3, 3.64) will start the series finale against Phillies righty Zack Wheeler (4-3, 2.51) Thursday afternoon.

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