ATLANTA -- Johan Camargo has returned from the disabled list and Jose Bautista is now gunning to become the Braves' third baseman. But it doesn't look like Ryan Flaherty is ready to relinquish the role he was given shortly after he left the Phillies during Spring Training.
Adding to the splendor of his sizzling and surprising start, Flaherty showed there's some thunder in his bat when he drilled a three-run homer that proved decisive in the Braves' 7-3 win over the Phillies on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
"When you win, it's always fun," Flaherty said. "It's been a fun two weeks of the season. It's a long way to go, and you just keep grinding each day."
Flaherty's shot into the right field seats provided adequate support for Brandon McCarthy, who surrendered a run and five hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Braves have won each of the first four games started by McCarthy and each of their first home series, marking the first time they've done so since 2000.
Unfortunately, the Braves did not escape this victory without some concern about Freddie Freeman, who exited after he was hit by a Hoby Milner pitch during the three-run eighth inning. Milner's pitch struck Freeman's left wrist, which was fractured by a pitch last year. The Braves did not announce the X-ray results, but there was indication the first baseman might not have suffered another fracture.
Phillies starter Vince Velasquez notched a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning and surrendered just three hits over the first four innings. But the right-hander began to crumble when he walked Preston Tucker and surrendered a Dansby Swanson single before allowing Flaherty to end a 131 at-bats homerless span that dated back to June 22, 2016.
Flaherty's homer traveled a projected 428 feet per Statcast™ -- the third-longest homer hit by a Braves player this season.
"I didn't know he had that juice in him," McCarthy said. "He killed that ball."
Flaherty opted out of his Minor League contract with the Phillies on March 21 and was signed by the Braves to play third base in place of Camargo, who was activated before Wednesday's game. The former Oriole has exceeded expectations as he's produced a .365 batting average that was strengthened as he's gone 11-for-23 with three doubles and a homer against Philadelphia.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Swanson's power: After the Phillies cut their deficit to one run in the top of the seventh inning, Swanson gave the Braves a little cushion when he concluded his eight-pitch at-bat against Edubray Ramos by drilling a seventh-inning homer. The solo shot was Swanson's second, and marked his 10th extra-base hit of the season. In contrast, he needed 44 games to gain a double-digit extra-base total last year.
"I've seen him do what he did tonight against a ball [on the inner third of the plate]," manager Brian Snitker said. "But he's playing with a lot of confidence. He's in a good place. He's swinging the bat well. His approach is really good."
Big out: When McCarthy exited with runners on the corners and one out in the sixth, right-handed reliever Shane Carle took advantage of another opportunity to get some key outs. Carle ended an eight-pitch battle against Rhys Hoskins by getting the Phillies' slugger to swing through a changeup. He followed the strikeout with a Nick Williams groundout.
"That goes overlooked with everything else, but that was huge," Snitker said. "I don't know if anybody matches up good with (Hoskins) because he's such a great hitter. (Carle) did a great job with him there."
• Anibal injures leg; Braves activate Camargo
Flaherty's only other career home run against the Phillies was hit off former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur on June 16, 2016. That was the only pitching appearance during Francoeur's career.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ender Inciarte quickly showed his defensive prowess when he raced back and reached above the center field wall to rob Scott Kingery of what would have been a one-out, solo home run in the first inning. The Braves' two-time Gold Glove center fielder perfectly timed his leap to grab the Kingery liner that came off the bat with a 105.7 mph exit velocity per Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"[Flaherty]'s a baseball player. He's played around the diamond. When you get a guy like that and get a chance to see him play, you just appreciate the professionalism, how he goes about it and what he brings to a club." -- Snitker
Ozzie Albies and the Braves will get their first look at the Mets when the National League East leaders come to SunTrust Park to open a four-game series Thursday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Lucas Sims or Matt Wisler will start in place of Atlanta right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who suffered a leg injury while running before Wednesday's game. Matt Harvey (0-1, 4.80 ERA) will get the ball for New York in the opener.