Braves lose to Phillies, drop first series against NL East opponent

The Braves finally lost a series to a National League East rival.

Rhys Hoskins’ three-run homer was the difference on a rainy Saturday in Philadelphia, when the Braves lost 4-1 to the Phillies. It was the Phillies’ fifth consecutive win and pulled them to within two games of the Braves in the division race.

Braves starter Josh Tomlin held the Phillies to one run over his first four innings. His offense couldn’t help him against opposing starter Zach Eflin, who beat the Braves for the second time in a week.

Tomlin spiraled downward in the fifth. He issued a leadoff walk to Andrew Knapp, who was bunted over by Adam Haseley. Andrew McCutchen’s first-pitch single put runners at the corners with none out. Then came Hoskins, who just missed a homer his previous time up. The slugger belted an 88-mph fastball into the empty stands for a four-run lead.

“I had a really good feeling that he would put Hoskins on the ground and get out of that inning,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said, explaining his decision to keep Tomlin in the game.

Following the homer, Tomlin was lifted for Tyler Matzek, who held the Phillies scoreless over his 2-1/3 innings until a 38-minute rain delay. The Braves returned from the delay and went 1-2-3 in the eighth. They had two base runners with one out in the ninth, but Brandon Workman retired Marcell Ozuna and Nick Markakis to finish the game.

Ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, the Braves lost both games started by converted long relievers Robbie Erlin – who started Friday in a game the Braves eventually lost in the 11th inning – and Tomlin. While neither player was solely to blame, the consecutive defeats again highlight the Braves’ most glaring weakness.

In the future, Snitker acknowledged he might resist the urge to let Erlin or Tomlin go deeper into games, even when they’re pitching well.

“We might be asking a lot (from Erlin and Tomlin to pitch deeper into games),” Snitker said. “Erlin was throwing really well. Josh was throwing well, and it wasn’t a bad matchup for him (against Hoskins). The outcome wasn’t good. When they’re out there and they’re pitching good and they’re effective, it’s hard to (lift them earlier). Going forward, that might have to be the formula, if we continue this.”

If the Braves can acquire a difference maker remains to be seen, but it’s difficult to imagine the rotation looking the same following Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline. When asked, Snitker didn’t have any indication whether the Braves would make a move.

“I don’t feel it right now like in the past,” Snitker said of the deadline. “There just hasn’t been the buildup industry-wide as there has been before. I really haven’t paid much attention to it. There hasn’t been much going on, really.”

Notes from Saturday:

- Every team in the NL East is within five games of the first-place Braves (18-14). The Phillies, Mets and Marlins are within at least three games. The top two teams in each division will qualify for the expanded postseason, along with two additional wild cards.

- Designated hitter Matt Adams fouled a ball off his left knee in the fifth inning. He continued the at-bat, striking out, and was lifted for pinch-hitter Travis d’Arnaud in the eighth.

“Matt stung himself pretty good,” Snitker said. “We’ll know more tomorrow. It got the top of his knee, popped it pretty good. But I saw it after the game, and it didn’t look all that bad. Once he sleeps on it and gets up, we’ll know a little bit more.”

Adams has already missed time this season with a hamstring strain. He’s played in 16 games, hitting .184 with two homers and nine RBIs.

- Outfielder Adam Duvall left Friday’s game early with a sore right Achilles. He didn’t play Saturday, though he was available. Snitker expects him to be in Sunday’s lineup.

- Second baseman Johan Camargo homered in the sixth inning. It was all the Braves managed against Eflin, who held them to four hits over seven innings.

Camargo’s season hasn’t come together as he and the Braves hoped. He’s struggled across the first 32 games, especially lately. He slashed .135/.158/.216 with 15 strikeouts against one walk in his past 38 plate appearances (10 games) entering Saturday.

- After going a horrific 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position during Friday’s loss, the Braves didn’t have those opportunities Saturday. They went 0-for-3 with runners at second and third, with only one chance coming against Eflin.

- The opportunity against Eflin was via Markakis’ double. It was the 507th two-bagger in his career, breaking a tie with Babe Ruth for 28th all-time on the doubles list. He’s now chasing Rickey Henderson, who’s 57th with 510 doubles.

- The Braves have unexpectedly been a different team away from Atlanta. They’re 6-10 on the road and have suffered all three of their series losses away from home (in Tampa Bay, New York (AL) and Philadelphia). They were 47-34 on the road in 2019, tied for the best mark in the NL.

- First baseman Freddie Freeman went 1-for-4 on Saturday, extending his hitting streak to 12 games with a ninth-inning single. Entering the day, Freeman was hitting .400 with two homers, six doubles and seven RBIs during the run. It’s the second-longest active hitting streak in the majors (Trea Turner, 13).

- The Braves will try to avoid being swept in a three-game series for the first time this season Sunday night. Huascar Ynoa will start against Phillies righty Jake Arrieta.

It also will be the regular-season finale between the Braves and Phillies. The Braves trail the series 5-4. They lost the season series to Philadelphia last season (10-9), which was only their second time in eight years doing so.

In Other News