The Braves have had a week to stew over their sweep at the hands of the Phillies in Atlanta, and they arrived at Citizens Bank Park ready to do something about it.
At least, Freddie Freeman did.
With the first two pitches that he saw, Freeman drove in four runs – on a three-run home run in the first inning and a run-scoring double in the second. The king of the “ambush” drove in all four of the Braves runs in a 4-2 series-opening win over the Phillies Friday night.
Freeman gave Julio Teheran a 4-0 lead to work with on Kyle Kendrick, a pitcher who has given the Braves fits. Teheran survived the only real threat the Phillies gave him in the fourth inning before using one of his nine strikeouts to quell it.
Jordan Walden worked around Ryan Howard in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel saved it in the ninth with No. 23 on the season. Kimbrel walked Marlon Byrd two pitches after nearly hitting him in the head with a 98 mph fastball. John Mayberry Jr. smoked a ball but to the deepest part of center field where B.J. Upton could catch it. And the Braves claimed the first game after Domonic Brown struck out.
Freeman entered the game with one extra-base hit in 18 at-bats off Kendrick. He got two in his first two swings, including his 13th home run on a ball to center field caught by Phillies broadcaster Tom McCarthy, doing their early coverage from the beyond the outfield.
It wouldn’t be the Phillies and it wouldn’t be Citizens Bank Park if things didn’t get interesting though.
The Phillies answered Freeman’s outburst with two runs in the fourth after Ben Revere led off the inning with a triple to the gap in right center field. It was his second of Revere’s hits off Teheran, who allowed only three to the rest of the Phillies lineup.
But Teheran gave up only two runs in the frame, including one that was unearned because of an Andrelton Simmons error, before re-establishing control. Teheran stranded two runners by striking out Mayberry Jr., getting him to swing through a 3-2 fastball on the 11th pitch of an at-bat that included six foul balls. That was the second out of a stretch in which Teheran retired 12 of 13 batters he faced to finish off his outing.
Teheran finished with nine strikeouts in seven innings, allowing only six hits and walking none. His night was over after 113 pitches, 74 for strikes.
Revere had scored easily on a groundout and then the Phillies prolonged the inning on another. Simmons took his eye off a throw from Dan Uggla at second base, perhaps thinking double play on a Ryan Howard grounder, and instead was charged with his sixth error of the season, allowing runners first and second. The Phillies cut Teheran’s lead in half 4-2 after Marlon Byrd followed with an RBI single to left.
Teheran had to duel Mayberry Jr. for 10 pitches before he finally got him to strike out on a fastball to end the fourth with two runners on. Teheran gave it a fist pump as he walked off the mound and went on to strike out four of the next five batters he faced as well.
The Braves had big chances for add-on runs, as Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez likes to call them, but stranded a runner at third in each of the fourth and fifth innings. Kendrick finally got Freeman to swing and miss, striking him out in the fourth and Chris Johnson hit into his team-leading 14th double play to end the fifth.
The Braves had to take on the Phillies without their best Citizens Bank bat. Evan Gattis, who has homered in five of the six games he’s played in Philadelphia, left the game after striking out in the first inning because of a spasm in his right rhomboid, the muscle in his upper back near his shoulder blade.
This was the second time this season backup catcher Gerald Laird had been called into emergency duty to replace Gattis for a Teheran start. On May 20, he found out 10 minutes before first pitch that Gattis had felt sick in the bullpen warming Teheran run. Laird and Teheran teamed up for a 5-0 shutout against the Brewers.
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