With Aaron Nola pitching for the Phillies on Friday, the Braves were likely going to need a strong performance from their own promising young right-hander.
Matt Wisler delivered.
The Braves beat the Phillies 7-1 behind Wisler’s quality start and two home runs by Freddie Freeman and one by Nick Markakis. The Braves (11-30) evened the season series 2-2 against the Phillies (24-18).
Nola was one of the best rookie pitchers in the majors in 2015 and he’s been even better in 2016. In his past five starts before Friday Nola was 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA, including 30 scoreless innings in his last 33.
Nola (3-3) was good again against the Braves, who took advantage of a defensive miscue to score three runs in the seventh. Wisler was better.
Wisler (2-3) held the Phillies to one run and five hits over 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven. He recovered from a shaky first inning to become the first Braves pitcher to earn two wins this season.
“Matt Wisler was really, really good,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. “He kind of had a little trouble in the very first (part) of the ballgame but then he kind of settled in. It was fun watching. He did a great job.”
Freeman’s two-run home in the third inning put the Braves ahead 2-1 and ended Nola’s run of 36 innings without allowing a homer. Markakis’ two-run homer, his first of the season, extend the lead to 5-1 in the seventh and Freeman added another two-run homer in the ninth against left-hander Brett Oberholtzer.
Wisler fell behind 1-0 on Ryan Howard’s RBI ground out in the first inning but retired eight of the next nine batters. He said he adjusted his mechanics after a conversation with catcher A.J. Pierzynski during the first inning.
“I felt like I was kind of throwing toward the on-deck circle a couple times but that’s what I needed to do to get the ball over the plate today,” Wisler said.
Wisler made two nice defensive plays to escape a jam in the fourth inning.
With runners at first and second and one out, Tyler Goeddel hit a ground ball that threatened to roll away from Wisler for an infield hit. Wisler sprinted to cut off the ball and stepped on first base for the second out. He made another athletic play to snag Nola’s ground ball for the third out.
The Braves added three runs against Nola in the seventh.
Mallex Smith, who led off the inning, reached second base on third baseman Maikel Franco’s wild throw. Smith went to third on Ender Inciarte’s ground out and scored when Gordon Beckham fought off Nola’s fastball for an RBI single.
Markakis homered with two outs. The three runs allowed by Nola in the inning were unearned.