Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not hesitate when pitching coach Roger McDowell asked him if he wanted to use closer Arodys Vizcaino to protect a five-run, ninth-inning lead.
"I said, 'Vizcaino is in the game no matter what,'" a relieved Gonzalez told reporters. "Because with a [12-game] losing streak, it is a save situation."
Freeman got things going with a two-run home run in the first inning against Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang. The second of Jace Peterson's three singles helped the Braves score three more runs against Harang in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead.
The Braves and Phillies entered the series with the two worst records in baseball, giving the series 2016 Draft pick implications. The Braves (55-83) had lost 19 of their last 20, and improved to 7-7 against the Phillies (53-85) this season.
"That was a disappointing start to the homestand," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We caught a team that's down, and we couldn't do a whole lot."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Olivera delivers: After Olivera struck out in his first two at-bats, his early-career statistics included two hits and seven strikeouts through 17 at-bats. Thus, it was easy to understand why Harang opted to issue a pair of two-out intentional walks to Nick Markakis. Unfortunately for the Phillies' right-hander, the second simply set the stage for Olivera to drill his first career extra-base hit -- a two-run double in the fourth. The 30-year-old Cuban third baseman then capped his productive night with his first career homer -- a two-run shot in the ninth inning off Colton Murray
"It was a good finish to what could have been a bad night because of how it started," Olivera said through an interpreter. "After I gathered myself, I was just happy to contribute and help the team win."
Perez halts his woes: As Perez retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced, he didn't look like a guy who had produced a 9.50 ERA in the previous seven starts he'd made since the All-Star break. The right-hander surrendered hits to four of the first eight hitters he faced Monday, but struck out seven and did not issue a walk in his outing.
"I think the thing that stands out is that [Perez] didn't walk anybody, that is his nemesis," Gonzalez said. "He's going to get a ground ball. But if you sprinkle a couple base hits in with a couple of walks, it becomes a big inning and crooked-number innings."
Altherr continues to impress: The Phillies had very little going Monday, but right fielder Aaron Altherr continues to warrant a longer look in the outfield. He tripled in the first inning and scored a run with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. He then made a nice running catch at the wall in the eighth inning, which he turned into an inning-ending double play when he threw to first to double up Andrelton Simmons.
"He's a nice-looking young player," Mackanin said. "We're going to find out the rest of the month how he does at this level. I have no reason to believe he won't succeed at this level. I'm anxious to see him play a little bit more." More >
Harang's struggles continue: Harang has been unable to regain the form that helped him to a 2.02 ERA in 11 starts through May 30. He is 1-10 with a 7.79 ERA in 14 starts since then, which includes Monday's start. He allowed eight hits, five runs, three walks, one home run and struck out six in just five innings against the Braves.
"They came out swinging, that's the thing," Harang said. "They know what I'm going to do. They know I'm going to go out and throw strikes."
QUOTABLE "It's really different. It really makes a difference. Let's put it this way, it's more fun. It's more fun when you win. You win, you pack the house. We've got to just keep moving forward." -- Mackanin, on the announced attendance of 15,125. It was a record-low at Citizens Bank Park.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Phillies pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic hit a homer in the fifth. It was his first big league plate appearance since Sept. 29, 2013, when he played for the Cubs.
When the Braves exited the fourth inning leading, 5-1, it marked the first time since Aug. 8 that they held a lead of at least four runs at the end of a full inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: Ryan Weber will be called up to make his big league debut when Atlanta and Philadelphia resume the three-game series on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Braves are filling the rotation spot that was opened when they opted to give Tuesday's scheduled starter Matt Wisler a chance to work out his struggles with a relief appearance on Sunday.
Phillies: Phillies rookie right-hander Aaron Nola suffered the worst start of his career Wednesday against the Mets at Citi Field, where he allowed nine hits and six runs in just four innings. He hopes to get back on track Tuesday night against the Braves.