ATLANTA -- Matt Kemp's RBI double capped a two-run first inning that set Phillies starter Ben Lively back and provided sufficient support to R.A. Dickey. The Braves' knuckleballer completed his most impressive start of the season, leading Atlanta to a 3-1 win over the Phillies on Thursday night at SunTrust
ATLANTA -- Matt Kemp's RBI double capped a two-run first inning that set Phillies starter Ben Lively back and provided sufficient support to R.A. Dickey. The Braves' knuckleballer completed his most impressive start of the season, leading Atlanta to a 3-1 win over the Phillies on Thursday night at SunTrust Park.
Dickey surrendered three hits without a walk, as he recorded a season-high eight strikeouts and limited the Phillies to one run over seven innings. Dickey gained comfort in the first inning when Nick Markakis and Kemp drove in runs against Lively, who allowed three earned runs over seven innings in his second career start.
"[Lively] just made a lot of mistakes today, but he had great stuff," Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "He kept us off-balance and left some balls up, and we just took advantage of his mistakes. Honestly, I didn't know it was his second start. I just see the ball and hit the ball."
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Odubel Herrera's leadoff double in the seventh inning positioned him to score on Maikel Franco's two-out single. Tommy Joseph's leadoff single in the second accounted for the only other hit surrendered by Dickey, who retired 15 straight before Herrera's double.
"It's always tough because it's different," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "You face a submariner baller and half of it is deception. A knuckleballer, you never see it. It's tough especially if he's got it working. [Braves catcher Tyler Flowers] missed at least half a dozen pitches, so you know it was dancing. You have to give him credit for having a good knuckleball tonight. We just couldn't get anything going."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Flowers' missile: Lively stranded two in the third inning and induced a double play after allowing consecutive singles to begin the fifth. But his attempt to escape again in the sixth evaporated when Matt Adams scored from first base on a Flowers double that left the bat at 110.9 mph and sailed over Herrera's head in center field.
Early threat thwarted: Joseph opened the second for the Phillies with a single and advanced to second base on a passed ball. After a Franco fly ball to center field moved Joseph to third, Dickey killed the threat with a Michael Saunders strikeout and Cameron Rupp's popup. Dickey didn't allow another Phillies batter to reach base until Herrera's double in the seventh.
"We got up early and we shut them down," Kemp said. "[Dickey] did a great job today and we saw a lot of ugly swings. That means his ball was moving a lot. He mixed in his fastball, too, and got a lot of guys off-balance tonight."
"I can't underscore how good of a job Tyler Flowers did tonight. On a night when [the knuckleball] was the best it's been all year, he was able to corral some in a way that gave the umpire a really good look at it and got some strikes for me." -- Dickey, on having Flowers serve as his catcher for the first time this season
"I'm not going to change how I pitch. That's what got me here. I'm going to be the same guy that I've always been." -- Lively, on pitching seven innings in each of his first two big league starts
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dickey induced a season-high 13 swinging strikes with his knuckleball and got eight called strikes on the 14 fastballs he threw. His season high called strike total with his fastball is nine, which came when he threw 28 fastballs against the Pirates on May 23.
Herrera has doubled in six consecutive games, tying Bobby Abreu (2000) and Heinie Sand (1925) for the franchise record. Each of his last 12 hits are extra-base hits (10 doubles, two home runs).
The Phillies won a challenge in the second inning. First-base umpire Jordan Baker called Ender Inciarte safe on a bang-bang play at first base. But replay showed that the throw from Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez to Joseph at first base beat Inciarte. The call was overturned and the inning ended.
Phillies: The Phillies open a three-game series against the Cardinals on Friday night in St. Louis at 8:15 p.m. ET. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (5-3, 4.50 ERA) has been in a rut since the end of April. He has a 6.75 ERA in his last seven starts.
Braves:Julio Teheran will take the mound when the Mets come to SunTrust Park to begin a series Friday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Teheran has a 3.93 ERA through three starts against the Mets and a 6.08 ERA against all other opponents this season.
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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.
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.