Braves fall short in 9th vs. Phillies, drop to 1-16 at home

Jeff Francoeur breaks his bat during a second-inning groundout.



Jeff Francoeur breaks his bat during a second-inning groundout.

In this final season of baseball at Turner Field, the Braves have played 17 home games and lost 16 of them.

Their 11th consecutive home loss was a 3-2 decision in Tuesday night’s series opener against the Phillies, a team the Braves beat seven times in nine home games in 2015.

The Braves got another strong eight-inning performance from Matt Wisler, a ninth-inning homer from Freddie Freeman and a memorable "deke" play by center fielder Ender Inciarte, but still absorbed their 11th straight home loss.

“Obviously you want to win games at home for your fans,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves are off to a franchise-worst 7-24 start and the first team to lose 16 of its first 17 home games since the 1913 New York Yankees. “They’re watching games and they’re wearing it (feeling the disappointment), just like we all are.”

The Phillies (19-14) have been the surprise of the National League East, while the Braves are the first team to lose at least 24 of their first 31 games since the 2003 Tigers started 6-25.

Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur said, “1-16? I don’t know what the heck’s going on, but hopefully we can change it, man, because there’s no doubt it’s frustrating. And to just lose by another run tonight.”

For a few minutes in the ninth inning a small crowd (14,490) got excited. After Freeman hit a ninth-inning leadoff homer for the Braves, his fifth, Tyler Flowers followed with an opposite-field fly ball that looked like it might have enough on it to tie the score, but instead it was caught on the warning track.

Pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson had a two-out single before pinch-hitter Reid Brignac flied out to end it. Each of the Phillies’ past seven wins have been by one-run margins.

Wisler (1-3) gave up eight hits, three runs and two walks in his second consecutive eight-inning performance. But he got little run support from a Braves team that’s totaled 24 runs during its 11-game home skid and 42 runs during its past 18 games overall, including 15 losses.

“The kid pitched great,” Gonzalez said. “That’s where we’re at. The kid pitches eight innings, give up three runs. Most nights, most times, that gives you a hell of a chance to win a ballgame. The way we’ve been swinging it, he doesn’t get anything but a loss. But there were a lot of good teaching moments throughout the game for him…. I can’t say enough about how good he pitched. I’m ecstatic about it. Excited the way he’s developed.”

Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan (1-0) came in with a 6.00 ERA in two starts hadn’t made it past the fifth inning in either, but against the Braves he allowed only four hits, one run and one walk in seven innings. He’d lost each of his three previous career starts against the Braves.

Maikel Franco had three hits including a homer on the first pitch of the eighth inning, a hanging slider, pushing the Phillies’ lead to 3-1 and giving Franco as many home runs (seven) as the Braves had as a team before Freeman’s ninth-inning homer.

The Phillies, winners of 13 of their past 18 games and 11 of their past 16 road games, scored first on a pair of fourth-inning singles and Freddy Galvis’ sacrifice fly.

The Braves answered in the bottom of the fourth with a run after consecutive singles by Ender Inciarte and Freeman to start the inning. They had runners on the corners and none out, but only mustered one run when Flowers grounded into a double play.

The second Phillies run scored an inning later when No. 9 hitter Peter Bourjos doubled high off the left-center field wall with one out and came home on Cesar Hernandez’s two-out single.