ATLANTA -- As they neared the end of their respective rookie seasons on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park, Nick Pivetta and Luiz Gohara staged a pitchers' duel that was decided by a Maikel Franco homer. His fifth-inning moonshot propelled the Phillies to a 2-0 win over the Braves.
Franco turned on a first-pitch changeup and deposited it over the left-field wall to begin the fifth. His 21st homer of the season provided sufficient support for Pivetta, who scattered five hits over six scoreless innings. The Phillies' right-hander avoided damage after Ender Inciarte began the bottom of the first and sixth innings with singles.
"I've settled down a little bit," said Pivetta, who has allowed two earned runs in 12 innings in his past two starts. "I kind of just stuck with it like I told you guys I would. I did the right things. I got ahead of guys. Me and [catcher Jorge] Alfaro did a really great job today. Guys played great defense behind me today. It was awesome."
• Franco enjoying hot streak to end season
Pivetta is 7-10 with a 6.26 ERA this season, but because of his impressive stuff and potential, he could open next season in the Phillies' rotation.
"This is the place to learn," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "You can have a lot of success in the Minor Leagues, but when you get up here, it's a different animal. The best place to learn is at the big league level and take your lumps and learn from them."
Gohara continued to show his tremendous potential, recording nine strikeouts and scattering five hits as he completed seven innings in his fourth Major League start. The 6-foot-3 left-hander benefited from two outfield assists from Nick Markakis, but he and the Braves' offense were unable to overcome Pivetta and the Phillies' bullpen.
"It wasn't a bad pitch on the home run," Gohara said. "It was a good location. He just got out in front and got it in the right spot there. After that, I didn't keep it stuck in my head. I just started making better pitches and getting outs."
"I've talked to guys who had played with him [in the Minors] and they're all like, 'At game time, you want that guy on your team,'" Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They said when he's between the lines, he really competes, and he really does. It's fun to watch him. He's got the strike zone. He throws the ball over [the plate], and when you do that with the quality of stuff he has, you have a chance to be pretty good."
Inciarte capped his three-hit game with a two-out single in the eighth inning. The Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder is three hits away from notching the seventh 200-hit season in Atlanta Braves history.
• Inciarte closing in on 200-hit season
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Strong finish: After Inciarte singled to begin the bottom of the sixth, Pivetta induced three consecutive groundouts against the heart of the Braves' order. After Johan Camargo grounded out to Pivetta and moved Inciarte to second, Freddie Freeman, who missed Saturday's game due to illness, moved Inciarte to third base. Markakis then ended the threat when his grounder found first baseman Tommy Joseph's glove.
Composed rookie: After surrendering Franco's homer, Gohara ended the fifth inning with three straight strikeouts. The young lefty, who has drawn comparisons to Carsten Sabathia, responded to Cesar Hernandez's sixth-inning leadoff single by inducing Aaron Altherr's double-play grounder.
"He's been good every outing. He pounds the zone. He mixes pitches and he's got good stuff. He's a big boy on the mound. He's young and he's learning. So, he's only going to get better." -- Markakis, on Gohara
"Neris is Neris. He makes you nervous but he gets it done." -- Mackanin, on closer Hector Neris, who allowed two hits but struck out the side in the ninth for his 24th save
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Markakis doubled his season outfield assists total to four as he became the first Braves outfielder since Jason Heyward (Aug. 27, 2012, at San Diego) to throw out two baserunners in a game.
The Phillies need to win one in their final six games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1961.
Phillies: The Phillies open their final homestand of the season Monday night in the series opener against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Aaron Nola will get the start. He is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his past three starts and has thrown seven innings in each of his last two outings. He is 1-0 with a 3.31 ERA in three starts against the Nats this season.
Braves:Lucas Sims and Max Fried will start the opposite ends of Monday's doubleheader against the Mets at Citi Field. Sims will take the mound for the first game, which is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET. Fried will be making his first start in more than two weeks when he toes the rubber in the nightcap.
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