Clutch hitting in 10th inning lifts Philadelphia Phillies past Atlanta Braves

By Jeff Neiburg, The Sports Xchange
Maikal Franco provided the clutch hitting for the Phillies in the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Phillies via Twitter
Maikal Franco provided the clutch hitting for the Phillies in the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Phillies via Twitter

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco said jokingly Saturday night that his body was hurting. He had his teammates to blame.

Down to their final out and trailing the Atlanta Braves by a run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning, the Phillies needed a clutch at-bat from Franco.


They got it.

Franco smashed a Jim Johnson offering to the wall in right field, drove in two runs and lifted the Phillies to a 4-3 win before taking a beating from his teammates in celebration.

Johnson (2-1) threw Franco a 1-0 fastball that got too much of the plate and Franco made him pay.

"Just trying to have a good at-bat, put the ball in play," Franco said. "I got a good pitch to hit and that's what happened."


The Phillies (8-9) won their third straight game and fourth in the last five. Atlanta (6-11) dropped its fifth consecutive game.

Jeanmar Gomez (2-1) picked up the win despite allowing a run in the top of the 10th inning.

The Phillies nearly had the game won in the ninth.

With two outs and Philadelphia leading 2-1, Atlanta's Brandon Phillips launched a game-tying, two-out homer in the ninth off reliever Edubray Ramos.

With usual Phillies late-inning relievers Hector Neris and Joaquin Benoit unavailable (rest), and starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff lasting just five innings, the late innings figured to be interesting for the Phillies if they had a lead.

They had one, failed to extend it, and saw it disappear in the top of the ninth with two outs.

Ramos was the fourth reliever the Phillies used after Eickhoff's exit. Ramos struck out the first two batters he faced but hung a slider to Phillips.


The Braves got a leadoff single from Dansby Swanson to start the 10th. Swanson advanced on what looked to be a simple sacrifice bunt by Emilio Bonifacio up the third-base line. But after Franco threw Bonifacio out at first, Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph inexplicably threw to an unoccupied third base, even though Swanson wasn't advancing toward that base.

The error allowed Swanson to coast into third, and he later scored on an Adonis Garcia two-out grounder to Franco, who fielded the baseball but threw the ball past Joseph.

"I thought we had the game in the bag," Phillips said of Atlanta's 3-2 lead.

But Franco made up for his gaffe.

Pinch-hitter Brock Stassi started the Phillies' 10th-inning rally with a one-out single to right field. Cesar Hernandez and Aaron Altherr followed with infield singles before Odubel Herrera struck out to bring Franco up as the Phillies' last chance.

Hernandez's hit looked like it could have gone for a double play off the bat. It was hit toward Phillips, but deflected off Johnson's glove. Altherr's was fielded beyond second base by a diving Swanson, who couldn't get the ball out of his glove in time to get an out.


"I feel like I should've made that play," Phillips said. "I've seen Swanson make that play. But things happen."

"Couple inches a different way and it's a different ballgame," Swanson said.

The Phillies trailed 1-0 and had just two hits entering the sixth inning. They scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. Herrera and Franco registered RBIs in the inning.

Eickhoff lasted just five innings. He allowed one run and two hits and struck out seven against two walks. He was done in by a high pitch count, needing 98 pitches to get through five. The Braves fouled off 20 pitches against Eickhoff.

Braves starter Jaime Garcia gave up five hits across six innings. He allowed two runs with six strikeouts and a walk.

The Braves scored the game's first run in the fourth when Phillips plated Freddie Freeman -- who reached base four times -- with an RBI double for a 1-0 Atlanta lead.

"It was a really wacky game," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "Some funny-looking plays."

His team, of course, got the last laugh.

NOTES: Before the game Friday, the Phillies acquired INF/OF Ty Kelly from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations. Kelly, 28, appeared in 40 games for the New York Mets between 2016 and 2017. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Kelly will join the team on Tuesday. ... To make room for Kelly, the Phillies placed RHP Clay Buchholz (forearm surgery) on the 60-day disabled list. ... Atlanta 2B Brandon Phillips made it 14 straight games reaching base safely with a fourth-inning double on Friday.


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