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Braves fall to Phils, lose ground atop NL East

Gohara shows promising signs as he pitches with heavy heart
Special to MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Luiz Gohara showed some promising signs on Wednesday in his first start of 2018, and the 21-year-old lefty did so with an important trip in the back of his mind.

Gohara gave up two runs in four innings in the Braves' 4-0 loss to the Phillies in the series finale at Citizens Bank Park. But as the rest of the Braves readied to travel to Boston on Wednesday night, Gohara was preparing for a different trip.

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PHILADELPHIA -- Luiz Gohara showed some promising signs on Wednesday in his first start of 2018, and the 21-year-old lefty did so with an important trip in the back of his mind.

Gohara gave up two runs in four innings in the Braves' 4-0 loss to the Phillies in the series finale at Citizens Bank Park. But as the rest of the Braves readied to travel to Boston on Wednesday night, Gohara was preparing for a different trip.

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Gohara will fly home to Brazil this week to be with his family as his mother recovers from open-heart surgery. She developed a heart ailment shortly after Gohara's father died unexpectedly during the offseason, and had surgery last week.

"It's been pretty emotional, but I try not to think about it too much [when I'm pitching]," Gohara said. "I try to focus on my work."

Gohara's start against the Phillies came after he allowed one run in seven innings over the course of three relief appearances over the last two weeks. He looked sharp early against the division rival.

Gohara, who made five starts for the Braves at the end of last season, struck out five of the first nine batters he faced. He registered 12 swings and misses, half of them from his slider.

Walks and some tough luck are what cut the start short.

Gohara ran into trouble with two outs in the third inning. Rhys Hoskins extended the frame by avoiding the tag of shortstop Dansby Swanson on a grounder from Odubel Herrera that went for a single. After a walk loaded the bases, Carlos Santana drove in a run with a dribbler that third baseman Johan Camargo couldn't get to.

The Phillies got another run off Gohara in the fifth, when Cesar Hernandez plated Scott Kingery -- who walked earlier in the inning -- with a single.

Gohara struck out six in the start, but he walked four and gave up four hits.

Video: ATL@PHI: Gohara freezes Hernandez in the 1st

"I thought he ran out of gas a little bit. He wasn't up and down that much," manager Brian Snitker said. "But overall, I thought he was good. He kept them off balance, the velocity played up a little bit more. It was good to get him out there and extended like that."

Gohara gave the Braves a chance to win, but the offense couldn't solve Jake Arrieta, and the Braves were shut out for the second time in the three-game series. They had eight hits but left eight men on base, and their lead in the National League East was slimmed to a half-game.

Gohara will be placed on the bereavement list and is set to rejoin the team sometime next week. It's unclear what his immediate role will be when he returns, but he could have a bright future with the organization.

"It's a lot. It's a lot for a young guy. It's a lot for any of us," Snitker said. "He stayed focused. Since we've brought him up, he's worked hard and done well."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Braves had runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh inning after Swanson's double chased Arrieta. Pinch-hitter Preston Tucker represented the tying run at the plate, but he struck out swinging against rookie reliever Seranthony Dominguez. The Braves also left runners on second and third in the second inning.

"When you don't take advantage, guys like [Arrieta], the longer they're out there, the better they get," Snitker said. "And when that bullpen door swings open, their bullpen is pretty good, too. That Dominguez kid is nasty."

Video: ATL@PHI: Dominguez strands 2 with a K in the 7th

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ronald Acuna Jr. made a spectacular diving catch to rob Kingery in the eighth inning, traveling 78 feet in 4.4 seconds to make his grab. The play had only a 41 percent catch probability and was rated a four-star catch by Statcast™ -- Acuna's fourth grab with that grade in 26 games. He is tied with Lewis Brinson of the Marlins for the most four-star catches this season. The rookie with the strong arm almost doubled off Jorge Alfaro at first base on the play, too.

"You don't want to go to the bathroom when he's on the field, because you might miss something great. That catch was as good as I've seen all year," Snitker said.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Braves challenged a close call in the eighth after Acuna was ruled out on a bang-bang play at first base. Acuna tried to beat out a grounder to shortstop, but the call stood, and the Braves went down in order in the inning.

Video: ATL@PHI: Kingery gets Acuna at first after challenge

UP NEXT
The Braves are off on Thursday before traveling to Boston for a three-game Interleague series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Julio Teheran will be on the mound for the Braves on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET, and he'll try to rebound after giving up six runs in his most recent start. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox.

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.

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