PHILADELPHIA -- It began innocuously enough. Aaron Altherr, dropped to seventh in the lineup due to past struggles against Julio Teheran, drew a walk in his first at-bat. He then demolished, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a solo homer deep into the second deck in left to lead off
PHILADELPHIA -- It began innocuously enough. Aaron Altherr, dropped to seventh in the lineup due to past struggles against Julio Teheran, drew a walk in his first at-bat. He then demolished, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a solo homer deep into the second deck in left to lead off the fifth, sparking a seven-run Phillies outburst that powered a series-opening win over Atlanta.
"That's the first ball I've hit hard off him," Altherr said about his fifth-inning homer, which landed in the second deck in left field. "My numbers had been pretty bad off him."
Cameron Rupp (his 10th) and Tommy Joseph (his 16th) added their own homers in the fifth to back up Altherr's moonshot in the Phillies' 10-3 win at Citizens Bank Park.
"I was kind of just hoping he'd get Joseph out and we'd cut our losses with four and are still in the ballgame ... the wheels kind of fell off there," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That was the one that hurt."
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Stymieing the Phillies' rally there would certainly have left the Braves in a competitive game. They battled back with a pair of solo homers in the seventh and, in the eight, plated a run and stranded two to make the game 8-3.
The night began as trade rumors swirled. Both Teheran and Philly's intended starter, Jeremy Hellickson, had their names swirling in trade talks as the final week before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline wraps up. Only one took the mound Friday.
Hellickson was scratched from his start less than a half-hour before first pitch as trade talks picked up. He was dealt with cash to the Orioles after the game for Hyun Soo Kim, lefty pitching prospect Garrett Cleavinger and international amateur signing bonus pool space. In a separate deal, Howie Kendrick was traded with cash to the Nationals for another lefty pitching prospect, McKenzie Mills, and more international signing bonus money.
In Hellickson's place, recent callup Jake Thompson pitched admirably on short notice, throwing five shutout innings, allowing just five hits, walking two and striking out five.
"They told me at 6:30," Thompson said. "I really didn't have time for much. I just grabbed my stuff and went out there and got ready."
Teheran did nothing to help his trade value, as the Phillies chased him with their big fifth inning, planting eight runs on his final line, raising his ERA to 5.09.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Little League homer: Amidst the three traditional home runs the Phillies launched in the fifth inning fell a different type of round-tripper, more common amongst youngsters still learning the game. Freddy Galvis slapped a ball the other way toward Nick Markakis, who, in an attempt to lay out to rob a hit, missed the ball completely and afforded Galvis a triple. Markakis chased the ball to the warning track and hit cutoff man Brandon Phillips, who proceeded to throw wildly to third, scoring Galvis on the play.
The important Joseph homer came four batters after Galvis' odd trip around the bases.
"You have to [rebound] … you still have to get the next hitter," Snitker said when asked if error-inducing runs are tougher to rebound from than a mistake pitch.
Rupp up and away: One batter after Altherr's home run got things started in the home half of the fifth, Rupp followed up with a homer, marking the fourth time the Phillies have gone back-to-back this season. With Andrew Knapp earning more playing time lately and prospect Jorge Alfaro slated to begin the 2018 season with the big club, a late push for Rupp could prove important. In his last 14 games, he has a .370/.442/.761 (1.203 OPS) slash line with five of his 10 homers on the year coming in his last eight games.
"It's great, because you always get an opportunity when you are going into a race or being traded to a team in first place already. You have a good chance to make the postseason, and that's what you live for. Our ultimate goal as players is to win a World Series. I couldn't think of a better place to be going to." -- Kendrick, on being traded the Nationals in exchange for prospect Mills, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as Philadelphia's No. 24 prospect
UNDER FURTHER REVIEW
Umpires called for a crew chief review in the top of the fifth to take a look at Ender Inciarte's double off the top of the right-field fence. A brief review concluded with a confirmation that there was fan interference, but the ball would not have been a homer had it not been touched by a fan leaning over the railing. Inciarte remained at second base.
Braves:Sean Newcomb takes the mound Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET to face the Phillies for the first time. Newcomb began his rookie season with four great starts immediately followed by four poor ones, all adding up to a 3.81 ERA and 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (44 strikeouts, 22 walks).
Phillies: Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (2-7, 4.71 ERA) pitches the second game of a four-game series Saturday night against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Eickhoff is 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA in his last four starts.
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Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia and covered the Braves on Friday.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.