Braves end trip with loss to Phillies

Freddie Freeman throws his helmet after striking out against Jerad Eickoff in the first.

Combined ShapeCaption
Freddie Freeman throws his helmet after striking out against Jerad Eickoff in the first.

After securing their second series win of the season, the Braves went for a sweep of the Phillies and a .500 finish to their 10-game trip.

They couldn’t do it, losing 5-0 to the Phillies on Sunday for their sixth loss on the trip. But interim manager Brian Snitker said the Braves would return to Atlanta with reasons to believe they can start winning more often.

“I hope so,” Snitker said. “For me, it is. I’ve seen a really lot of good things in my week here that we can build on, I think, and kind of get the train rolling a little bit.”

The offensive surge that buoyed the Braves for much of the trip ended during the series finale at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves (12-31) got a respectable spot start from Casey Kelly but had just six hits, all singles.

The Braves scored five or more runs in five games during the 10-game trip after doing so just seven times in their first 32 games. They hit nine home runs in a five-game stretch spanning Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to match their total from the first 36 games.

“I think the mindset changed in batting practice and (we are) going up there and having a bit more fun at the plate,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “We are not trying to press. Just go up there, swing big sometimes and if something good happens, something good happens. I like the way we’ve been playing.”

The Phillies (25-19) pounded out 13 hits Sunday that included two triples and Cameron Rupp’s home run. Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (2-6) held the Braves scoreless with five hits over seven innings. and escaped trouble the few times the Braves put pressure on him.

Daniel Castro led off the third inning with a single and went to second on Kelly’s sacrifice but was stranded on fly outs by Mallex Smith and Ender Inciarte. Freddie Freeman lined out sharply to first baseman Tommy Joseph to end the seventh and strand two runners. And pinch hitter Kelly Johnson grounded out to end the seventh with two runners on base.

“Eickhoff had some good stuff today,” Freeman said. “He had the fastball working on both sides of the plate and he has a real big curveball that’s sharp, and he had that going today. That’s a good start for Casey, he kept us in the game. We just didn’t come up big for him.”

After sending rookie Aaron Blair to Triple-A Gwinnett last week the Braves called on Kelly to make his first start of the season and the ninth of his career. He labored to make it through three of five innings pitched but also had some bad luck.

Rupp hit Kelly’s second pitch of the second inning to the opposite field for a home run. Tyler Goeddel tripled with one out and Peter Bourjos hit a slow-rolling ground ball through the middle of the infield for a two-out RBI single.

Freddy Galvis tripled to lead off the fourth inning and Kelly’s pitch hit the next batter, Goeddel. Eickhoff hit a high-bouncing ball that glanced off Kelly’s glove before rolling for an RBI ground out. Kelly hit Herrera with a pitch with two outs and two runners on before Cesar Hernandez grounded out.

Kelly (0-1) allowed seven hits and three runs over five innings. Some more bad luck for the Braves contributed to two Phillies runs in the sixth.

With two outs, reliever Alexi Ogando broke Maikel Franco’s bat with a pitch but the ball looped to right field and Nick Markakis came up short on adiving catch attempt. The single scored Herrera and Hernandez.

The Braves settled for winning two of three games against the Phillies to secure their first series victory since sweeping the Marlins April 15-17.

“We played two really good ballgames and just couldn’t get anything going offensively today,” Snitker said.