The champagne is on ice.
The Phillies punched. The Braves counter-punched. And the latter was a near-knockout blow.
The Braves scored five times in a wild seventh inning, capped by a two-run single by Johan Camargo, for a 6-5 victory Friday night at SunTrust Park. The win reduced the Braves’ magic number to clinch the National League East to two over the Phillies. They can earn their first trip to the postseason since 2013 with a win Saturday.
“I always call there is an it factor with teams,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You don’t know how they get it but when they’ve got it, it’s really something special. You can’t manufacture it. There is nothing you can put together as a manager and give it to them. Some teams have it. It’s a really cool thing when a club does. You don’t know where it comes from. It’s a fun thing to be around.”
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Here is how the dramatic seventh inning, with eight total runs, unfolded.
The Phillies scored three runs in the frame, with a misplayed ball by Ronald Acuna as the key blow. Wilson Ramos hit a line drive to right, and was credited with a double, after Acuna broke in on the ball that then went over his head. The double gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead and chased Julio Teheran, who allowed just three hits before the hit. Jose Bautista followed with an RBI single to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead.
Teheran’s final pitching line reflected the two earned runs from the misplayed ball. He went 6-1/3 innings and allowed four runs, all earned, with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Braves answered immediately as Ozzie Albies hit his 23rd home run of the season, a blast to right field, following a Tyler Flowers’ leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh. Dansby Swanson walked and pinch-hitter Lucas Duda singled to put runners on first and third with no outs. Acuna had a chance to atone for the mistake but hit into a fielder’s choice as Swanson was thrown out at the plate on a ground ball to third. Ender Inciarte followed with a double to score pinch-runner Lane Adams and tie the game 4-4. Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Nick Markakis popped out to second.
Cue the dramatic music that has been the soundtrack to this Braves’ season.
Camargo delivered as he drove in two runs with a single to center on a full count as the Braves batted around. The game- and near division-clinching hit set off another celebration.
“When you play with your heart, good things happen” Camargo said.
Should the Braves clinch the division on Saturday it could come five years to the day, Sept. 22, since their last postseason-earning win.
The Phillies jumped out first with, of course, a first-inning run off Teheran. Cesar Hernandez led off the game with a home run to right field. Teheran has allowed 24 runs in 30 first innings this season, a 7.20 ERA with eight home runs. He has allowed just 16 home runs in the rest of his the 139-2/3 innings.
Teheran didn’t allow another hit until J.P. Crawford led off the sixth inning with a triple off the right field wall. Crawford would be stranded as Teheran retired the next three batters on a strikeout, ground out to second and fly out to right.
Teheran wouldn’t survive the seventh inning. He left without a decision despite the solid outing. Jonny Venters got the win after relieving Teheran.
“We were talking the other day about it,” said Teheran, who along with Freeman are the only Braves on the current roster that made the playoffs in 2013. “We looked at each other and said ‘It’s been awhile since we did this.’ We are excited. … It’s going to be different for me. I was a rookie. I’m excited to see how everything is going to be.”
The Braves answered the Phillies’ first run in the third inning as Freeman delivered a two-out single to score Acuna.
A ninth-inning run off A.J. Minter pulled the Phillies close before he earned his 15th save.
The Braves have two more home games against the Phillies on Saturday and Sunday afternoons after taking the first two games of the series and reducing their magic number from six. One victory means the Braves clinch another division title on their home field before ending the regular season with a six-game road trip at the Mets and Phillies.
The Braves are 45-23 against NL East teams with a plus-114 run differential in the division.
“It’s what these guys are all about,” Snitker said of the winning rally. “ … Unbelievable to give up the lead like that, could be dead in the water and come back and score five. Unreal.”
Almost certainly, there is more baseball to be played in Atlanta when they return.