Braves erase 4-run deficit, walk off vs. Phils

August 23rd, 2020

ATLANTA -- If the Braves win a third straight division title, there will be reason to look back on nights like Saturday, when they erased another late-inning deficit, improved their strong record against National League East teams and celebrated yet another walk-off win.

's two-out, ninth-inning single off Brandon Workman ended a thrilling, 6-5 comeback win over the Phillies at Truist Park. The Braves’ third walk-off win within their past five home games came at the expense of Workman, who was acquired from the Red Sox on Friday to fix a bullpen that has posted an MLB-worst 7.91 ERA.

“The more you come back and win games late, the more confidence you have in doing it and the more experience you have in doing it,” Duvall said. “We know how to win ballgames late. It’s fun to be a part of. … For us, it’s just a never-die mentality.”

Down by two when Bryce Harper homered before spot starter Robbie Erlin recorded his second out and by four when Andrew McCutchen homered off Grant Dayton in the seventh, there was always a sense the Braves might be constructing yet another late rally.

The Braves now stand as MLB’s only team to claim at least four wins when trailing after the seventh inning this year. The Phillies had been 8-0 when leading after the seventh. But they were still reeling after blowing leads in both ends of Thursday’s seven-inning doubleheader against the Blue Jays.

Philadelphia responded on Friday by acquiring Workman, who had allowed three runs and eight hits over 6 2/3 innings with the Red Sox this year. He surrendered hits to four of the nine Braves batters he faced after entering in the eighth with runners at the corners, one out and the Phillies leading, 4-3.

“That’s not the first impression I’m trying to make,” Workman said. “That’s not what I do on the mound. I need to execute pitches better than I did tonight. There’s no excuse for that. I just need to do a better job and get my job done.”

Austin Riley sparked the Braves’ comeback in the seventh inning with a two-run homer off Zack Wheeler, who surrendered just those two runs over seven innings. The Braves briefly took a lead with a three-run eighth and then watched Mark Melancon produce his first blown save in 16 opportunities since joining the team last year.

Braves top prospect Cristian Pache nearly prevented that ninth-inning run, when he caught Bryce Harper’s fly ball in left field and made a strong throw that forced a replay review to confirm Neil Walker had indeed beaten Tyler Flowers’ tag at the plate.

So within about 15 minutes, Braves manager Brian Snitker saw his team produce a three-run eighth and then surrender a ninth-inning lead.

“If you’re not doing this, it’s what you miss -- a gut-wrenching inning like that,” Snitker said. “That’s what keeps you coming back.”

Héctor Neris surrendered Marcell Ozuna’s RBI single in the eighth and then exited after retiring Duvall. This prompted the entry of Workman, whose first pitch as a Phillie resulted in the two-run, go-ahead double by Matt Adams to the left-field corner.

“We just don’t give up and we don’t fold,” Duvall said. “That goes to guys putting together good at-bats and being tough outs. That’s the thing about this team: Especially late in the game, guys dial it in. It’s not an easy lineup to get through.”

Tyler Flowers began the ninth with a single off Workman and was replaced by pinch-runner Alex Jackson, who raced to third base on a Dansby Swanson double. After Jackson was forced out at the plate, Duvall lined his game-winning single to left-center field.

“I’m such a big fan of [Duvall],” Snitker said. “I just love to see it for him.”

Within their first 13 home games, the Braves have tallied three walk-off wins and also erased a four-run, eighth-inning deficit against the Mets on Aug. 1. They are the only NL East team with a winning record (12-6) against division opponents, and they are now 6-2 in one-run games.

“We just grinded it out like we’ve done all year,” Duvall said.