Ruiz, Phillies take series opener from Braves
PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Harang and Shelby Miller came into Thursday night's Braves-Phillies game a combined 0-14 since May 17. Harang broke his streak. Miller didn't.
Harang threw five innings in his first start since July 1 -- when he went on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis -- in the Phillies' 4-1 win at Citizens Bank Park. The winning decision for Harang ended a streak of eight straight starts in which he registered the losing decision and nine straight winless starts in total. He allowed just one run despite the nine hits he surrendered and struck out three.
"All of his pitches were sharp," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "He threw strikes. He just had a higher pitch count than we like. That's why we took him out of the game. But he certainly looked like a different guy than he was while he was pitching with that foot injury. We were real pleased with his performance."
The loss for the Braves was their fourth in a row and seventh in eight games. Phillies bats found Miller's pitches early as he worked up to 59 pitches through the first three innings, but it wasn't until the fourth -- when four Phillies in a row singled -- that Philadelphia was able to break through against the right-hander. Limited run support has led Miller to go winless while posting a 3.19 ERA over his past 13 starts.
"It was definitely hot, but I don't think that was the reason at all," said Miller, who changed his jersey multiple times while sweating profusely throughout the outing. "You play the game in humidity. Atlanta is hot and here is hot. You've got to get used to that. There is no excuse for that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Phils finally get to Miller: Miller entered this game with 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Phillies and a 2.03 ERA in six career starts against them. But Atlanta's All-Star hurler started to waver after he allowed four consecutive one-out singles in the fourth and then three consecutive one-out singles in the fifth. The 11 hits he surrendered matched the career high he allowed on July 10 at Coors Field vs. the Rockies.
1,000th time's a charm: Playing in his 1,000th game as a Phillie, catcher Carlos Ruiz came to the plate for his second at-bat of the night with the bases loaded in the fourth inning after the three players before him all reached with singles. Ruiz joined in on the action with a single of his own, plating Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis and giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Lifeless offense: The Braves have scored three runs or fewer in eight straight games and in 10 of 13 games since the All-Star break. They loaded the bases with three straight singles to begin the third inning. But after Freddie Freeman struck out, A.J. Pierzynski's two-out infield single accounted for the only run produced with that threat against Harang, who has allowed one run in 19 innings against his former Atlanta teammates this year.
"[Freeman] is the guy you want there and it didn't happen," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I'll take my chances there with him every single time in that situation."
Brown goes boom: Domonic Brown continued the turnaround he's been in the middle of for the last eight games on Thursday. Brown smacked two hits, including his first home run of the season, marking his fourth multi-hit game in 10 days. The home run was Brown's first since Sept. 16, 2014.
"He hit a missile," Mackanin said. "It was nice to see. I think he's been so concerned about the outer half of the plate. I think he's got to remember that mistakes are made over the plate and on the inner half. I think that he's got to get back to that.
"He might've been lurking in the shadows somewhere, but I haven't seen him." -- Mackanin. on whether or not Cole Hamels was in the clubhouse on Thursday in the wake of his potential trade to the Texas Rangers
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
This game was just the fifth the Braves have played, dating back to 2000, during which they scored one run or less while recording at least 12 hits.
After Miller allowed four straight Phillies to single, giving the Phillies a 2-1 lead, Harang stood at the plate with Ruiz on first and Brown on second base. Brown ventured a little too far off second and Pierzynski threw down to second with Andrelton Simmons covering. On initial appearance, Brown looked safe and such was second-base umpire Gabe Morales' call. However, replay showed that when Brown stood up out of his slide, there was a brief moment where neither his hand nor foot were on the bag while Simmons still had the tag applied and the call on the field was overturned. The review lasted an estimated one minute and 20 seconds.
Braves: Williams Perez will make his first start in more than a month when Atlanta and Philadelphia resume their four-game series on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. Perez has been sidelined since a liner struck his left foot during a June 26 start in Pittsburgh.
Phillies: With Friday marking the Trade Deadline, nobody's quite sure what the Phillies' roster will look like when they host the Braves for game two of this four-game set. David Buchanan will be called up from Triple-A to start on the mound. But, plenty more is at stake for the Phils, who with a win could finish July with a winning record. Prior to July, the best record the team had in any month was an 11-18 May.