Donaldson leads HR parade as Braves beat Pivetta, Phillies

Sports
Austin Riley, Josh Donaldson

Atlanta Braves’ Austin Riley (27) celebrates with Josh Donaldson after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves may have found new help for their starting rotation, just in time to possibly influence their trade deadline plans.

Rookie Bryse Wilson allowed only two runs in six innings, Josh Donaldson and Austin Riley hit three-run homers off Nick Pivetta and the Braves solidified their NL East lead by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 9-2 on Wednesday night.

Donaldson’s homer gave Atlanta a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Following Riley’s blast, Matt Joyce added a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Juan Nicasio in Atlanta’s six-run sixth.

Atlanta leads second-place Philadelphia by 5 ½ games after splitting the first two games of the series.

Wilson (1-0) gave the depleted rotation a boost in only his fourth career start, including three this season.

The rotation has lost Mike Foltynewicz, a 2018 All-Star who was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett on June 22, and Kevin Gausman, who was placed on the injured list on June 11 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Wilson, who opened the season in Atlanta before being sent back to the minors, was needed even following the recent addition of Dallas Keuchel.

Wilson’s outing could impact the team’s trade outlook. There has been much speculation the Braves could attempt to add another veteran starting pitching before the July 31 trade deadline. Now Wilson showed he may be an option to remain in Atlanta.

“That was a really encouraging, positive outing right there,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

Wilson, who gave up four earned runs in a loss at Chicago on Thursday, relied heavily on his fastball against the Phillies.

“To get the results I was looking for was really nice,” Wilson said, adding that beating the division-rival Phillies “just makes it that much more special.”

Bryce Harper hit a line-drive homer to left field in the sixth. It was his 200th career homer and 1,000th career hit. According to the Phillies, it marked the first time in major league history a player reached milestones in hits and homers on the same swing.

Harper, aware of the significance of the homer, signaled for the ball as he ran around the bases. He had his wish granted by a fan who threw the ball back onto the field.

“I got lucky I got some nice fans out there to throw it back to me,” Harper said, adding he enjoyed the double milestone on one homer.

Wilson, 21, faded in the sixth, when he allowed Harper’s 16th homer, Rhys Hoskins’ double to left field and J.T. Realmuto’s run-scoring single to left. Realmuto was thrown out at second to end the inning after Hoskins scored to cut Atlanta’s lead to 3-2.

The Braves pulled away with six runs on seven hits in the bottom of the sixth. Pivetta (4-3) allowed six runs, five earned, in 5 2/3 innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: RHP David Robertson, trying to return from right elbow soreness, threw 19 pitches in the bullpen. He hasn’t pitched since April 14. Robertson threw his fastball “with more conviction” according to manager Gabe Kapler. … RHP Jerad Eickhoff (right biceps tendinitis) will play catch on Friday. … Nicasio suffered a mild left groin strain while giving up three runs and recording only one out. He will be evaluated Thursday.

HIGHLIGHT CATCHES

Scott Kingery made two highlight-worthy catches in center field. He raced in to catch a sinking liner hit by Nick Markakis in the sixth and made a diving snag of Donaldson’s fly ball in the right-center gap in the seventh. Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. also made a diving catch of Jean Segura’s drive to the right-center gap in the eighth.

DON’T LOOK NOW

The Phillies are only one-half game ahead of third-place Washington in the division. Harper, the former Nationals star, isn’t surprised his old team is moving up. “I think we all knew that was going to happen,” he said.

SELLOUT

The sellout of 40,147 set a Wednesday record for SunTrust Park. All five games against the Phillies have been sellouts.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (7-7, 3.34 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in three career starts against the Braves. He has not faced Atlanta this season.

Braves: All-Star RHP Mike Soroka (9-1, 2.13) will be the second straight rookie to face the Phillies as the three-game series ends.

___

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