The momentum began to swing in the eighth inning Friday night, and what ensued resulted in one of the Braves’ biggest wins this season.
The Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-8 after being down 7-2 in the seventh inning. The team is now 41-29 on the season, 2-1/2 games ahead of the Phillies for first place in the National League East. In the eighth and ninth innings, the Braves scored five runs, capped by a walk-off single from Brian McCann that resulted in his 1,000th RBI.
“It’d be real easy just to check it in and go on the other one, and you could live with it,” manager Brian Snitker said. “They don’t live with that. They don’t operate that way.”
In the bottom of the eighth, right fielder Nick Markakis scored off a single by second baseman Ozzie Albies.
But, Snitker said he thought things started to change when Charlie Culberson went in to pinch hit and produced a triple to drive home Albies. The sequence cut the Phillies’ lead to two runs.
Closer Jerry Blevins got out of the top of the ninth inning without giving up any runs, striking out Bryce Harper and forcing a fly out and ground out to retire the side.
That set up the grand ending, as shortstop Dansby Swanson singled to get on base and advanced to second off a ground ball from third baseman Josh Donaldson. After Markakis walked, rookie left fielder Austin Riley stepped up and delivered a big double to left field.
“He’s a beast, he’s got everything covered,” McCann said of Riley. “You’ve got to make your pitches on him.”
Phillies closer Hector Neris was consistently going to a split-finger fastball, which Riley had to be careful with because of its tendency to drop low to the plate. He said he knew if the ball got up in the strike zone, he would be able to handle it.
Riley, who’s hitting .295 on the season with 10 home runs, has had his fair share of big hits late in games. He added to that Friday.
“This team is never out of it, you just kind of fuel off each other, and that kind of brings that poise and that comfort to be able to handle those types of situations,” Riley said.
Following Riley’s double, catcher Brian McCann hit the walk-off single, recording the 999th and 1,000th RBIs of his career and securing the victory.
“If we could stop the bleeding, keep this thing close and give these guys a chance, it’s amazing what they can accomplish,” Snitker said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.