Scott Kingery’s walk-off homer beats Braves in 11th

The Braves and Phillies opened their final series of the regular season with an extra-innings thriller on Friday night in Philadelphia.

Scott Kingery’s walk-off three-run homer sent the Braves to a 7-4 loss in the 11th inning. It concluded a closely played contest that was decorated with heart-pounding moments in extras. That tenseness was made possible by MLB’s new rule that places a runner at second to begin every extra frame.

After falling behind 4-2, the Braves welcomed Phillies starter Zach Wheeler’s exit. Ender Inciarte and Austin Riley pounded back-to-back homers against reliever Adam Morgan to tie the game in the seventh. Once again, the Braves appeared positioned to do late damage against the Phillies’ notoriously bad bullpen.

Yet both relief groups pitched to a stalemate, sending the game to extras. The Braves were in business with one out in the 10th, having runners at the corners, but Travis d’Arnaud and Nick Markakis couldn’t bring a run in. That loomed large.

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The Phillies opened their half of the 10th with a bunt single from Roman Quinn, putting their own runners at the corners with none out. Kingery entered the game as the runner at second, replacing Alec Bohm.

Braves reliever Shane Greene navigated the rest of the inning masterfully. He got Andrew McCutchen to fly out. He coaxed a grounder from Rhys Hoskins, which Riley fielded at third and fired home to get Kingery.

“Unbelievable play,” manager Brian Snitker said. “That was an outstanding play. Outstanding.”

Greene then intentionally walked Bryce Harper to face J.T. Realmuto, who grounded out to end the inning. It completed two strong innings for Greene, who has a 0.59 ERA across 14 appearances this season.

The 11th brought the game’s defining play. Inciarte drew a lead-off walk. One out later, he tried to steal second but was tagged out. The call stood following review, but the broadcast replay angle suggested Inciarte might’ve been safe after all.

“That’s what I saw,” Snitker said, saying he thought Inciarte beat the tag. “(We would’ve been in) a really good spot. That’s a tough one when it doesn’t go your way. We all thought he was safe and he beat it. We would’ve stayed out of a double play and have two more chances. We all thought he stole the bag. Sometimes those don’t go in your favor.”

That was the Braves’ final opportunity. Adeiny Hechavarria grounded out to finish the inning. Mark Melancon entered for Greene, getting the Phillies down to their final out and final strike before hanging a pitch to Kingery – who entered the game as the placed runner in the 10th – that wound up in the seats.

“He was put in for his legs,” Snitker said of Kingery. “It’s funny how things work.”

Notes from Friday:

- The Braves’ bullpen has continuously delivered across the first 31 games. Despite the result, this one wasn’t any different. Prior to Melancon, the bullpen logged six scoreless innings following starter Robbie Erlin.

Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day, A.J. Minter, Chris Martin, Will Smith and Greene combined to allow two hits and one walk in relief.

“Not only do we have great arms, we have great dudes down there,” Greene said. “We understand that if we want to win the whole thing, the bullpen has to be a huge strength. We all have a chip on our shoulder to make sure we get the job done. We feed off each other’s energy. They say hitting is contagious, but I think pitching is just as contagious.”

- Before Greene, Minter had the bullpen’s highlight moment when he entered in the sixth. The Phillies had two baserunners with one out because of an error and hit by pitch. Minter replaced O’Day and induced an infield popup and grounder, keeping the Braves within two runs.

- Outfielder Adam Duvall left the game in the fifth with a sore right Achilles. Inciarte replaced him. Duvall is day-to-day, according to the team.

Duvall entered the day hitting .241/.291/.430 with four homers, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored. He’s emerged as an important part of the lineup after playing sparingly across the past two seasons.

- Erlin has been a serviceable rotation member, but he can’t seem to keep the Phillies in the ballpark. The lefty allowed two homers Friday, bringing his total to five homers allowed in 10-2/3 innings against the Phillies. He hasn’t allowed a home run in any of his other three appearances this season, though only one of those was with the Braves.

- The Braves scored their first run via back-to-back doubles from Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna in the fourth. Ozuna’s double left the bat at 115.6 mph, which made it the hardest-hit ball by a Braves player this season.

- Freeman extended his hitting streak to 11 games, going 2-for-5 and scoring a run. Freeman is hitting .404 (23-for-57) with 12 extra-base hits in his past 16 games.

- Oddly, Friday was only the second day in past five that the Braves have played. They were off Monday, rained out on Tuesday, played a doubleheader Wednesday and were off again Thursday. After opening the season with 20 consecutive games, the Braves have had plenty of rest.

The long stretches aren’t over yet: The Braves will play 14 games in 13 days from Aug. 4-16. After an off day, they’ll end the season with 10 consecutive games, seven of which will be at Truist Park. Including a doubleheader Aug. 4, the Braves will finish the regular season playing 24 games in 24 days.

- The Phillies pulled within three games of the Braves in the National League East with the win. While the Braves have kept pole position most of the season, the Marlins, Mets and Phillies are each within three games. The last-place Nationals are five games back.

- The Braves and Phillies will continue their series Saturday afternoon, weather permitting. The forecast projects heavy rain throughout the day as the remnants of Laura pass through Philadelphia. Josh Tomlin is the Braves’ scheduled starter.

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