The Braves couldn’t take advantage of Phillies spot starter Jake Thompson, right-hander Julio Teheran still can’t keep the ball in the park and their defense made everything worse.
The Phillies routed the visiting Braves 10-3 on Friday with a strong start by Thompson and seven runs in the fifth inning against Teheran. The Phillies chased Teheran with back-to-back solo home runs by Aaron Altheer and Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph’s three-run shot that put them ahead 8-0.
“Kind of the wheels fell of there a little bit,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
The Braves (48-53) are on the fringes of the wild-card race but lost for the fifth time in six games. The Phillies (36-64) have the worst record in the majors but it was hard to tell in the series opener even with Thompson filling in at the last minute for Jeremy Hellickson, a late scratch.
The Phillies led 1-0 in the first inning when Freddy Galvis stole third base and scored on catcher Kurt Suzuki’s throwing error. Neither team scored again until the Phillies erupted for the seven runs in the eighth.
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“I fell behind a couple times and didn’t make my pitches,” Teheran said. “That cost me that inning. I was struggling a lot. That’s part of the game, you miss (pitches) and you put it behind you.”
Altheer led off with a homer and Rupp followed with another. After pinch hitter Ty Kelly walked, Galvis smashed a line drive to right field and Nick Markakis couldn’t catch it with a diving attempt. Galvis went for a triple and scored on a throwing error by second baseman Brandon Phillips.
Teheran hit Nick Williams with a pitch and gave up a two-out single to Odubel Herrera before Joseph’s homer. That promoted manager Snitker to pull Teheran after just 4 2/3 innings.
“I was kind of hoping he’d get Joseph out and we’d cut our losses with four and we are still in the ballgame,” Snitker said.
Home runs have been a persistent problem for Teheran this season. He’s allowed 21 homers over his last 74 innings (13 starts) and entered the game with second-most homers allowed per nine innings (1.79) in the NL.
Some of Teheran’s homer issues probably can be attributed to playing home games at SunTrust Park, where he’s allowed 13 home runs over 52 1/3 innings with a 7.05 ERA. But Teheran has now allowed 13 homers over 67 1/3 innings on the road and, after the Phillies roughed him up, his 2.70 ERA in road games swelled to a 3.57 ERA.
“It was one of those nights where he was moving along pretty good until that inning,” Suzuki said of Teheran. “He made a couple mistakes and they put good swings on them. Just one of those nights.”
The Braves couldn’t generate any offense until Suzuki and Sean Rodriguez hit solo home runs in the seventh inning against reliever Hobby Milner. In the eighth Matt Adams scored on a throwing error by third baseman Galvis and the Braves loaded the bases with two outs before Ender Inciarte flied out against Joaquin Benoit.
The Braves got five hits (four singles) and two walks over five innings against Thompson over five innings while striking out five times. Thompson had been called up by the Phillies on Tuesday. He’d made three relief appearances for the Phillies this season (five innings) with a 9.00 ERA and hadn’t started since September at the Mets.
“He was good,” Suzuki said. “He kept off balance. He did a good job missing barrels, just off the end, just in a little bit. You tip your hat sometimes. He was tough.”
The Phillies scratched Hellickson about 30 minutes before the first pitch. The team cited the wet field conditions but multiple reports indicated that the Phillies were in the process of trying to trade Hellickson.
Suzuki said the late change to a pitcher with no starts this season didn’t throw off the Braves.
“You’ve got all the scouting reports,” Suzuki said. “It didn’t make any difference.”