Tue, Sep 19, 2023 2:03 AM
By GEORGE HENRY, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Kyle Schwarber didn't sound too impressed with his latest long home run. The Phillies' slugger was just glad to beat a tough division rival.
“I would’ve took it if it had gone in the first row,” he said. “It was a good offensive day all around for all of us.”
Schwarber hit a 483-foot two-run homer, and Philadelphia went deep four other times to back Zack Wheeler in a 7-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
Schwarber's 45th homer of the season gave the Phillies a six-run lead in the sixth inning, a drive that cleared the top of the Chop House restaurant in right field at Truist Park. It was the second-farthest ball hit at the home of the Braves and the second-longest homer by Schwarber in his career, 5 feet shy of the ball he hit off Yu Darvish in the NL Championship Series at San Diego last year.
“I think it'll be cool whenever you're done,” Schwarber said. “Heck, for me, it's cool to say you did it and you can take your kid to a baseball game and go, ‘Hey, you know what? Dad did this,’ but I'm just worried about trying to get a win right now.”
Philadelphia opened a 3 1/2-game lead over Arizona for the top NL wild card.
Atlanta lost its fourth straight, tying a season high, but was assured a bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage in the Division Series when Milwaukee lost 1-0 at St. Louis. Manager Brian Snitker wasn’t too concerned about the losing streak, with big plans ahead for October.
“Yeah, and it was satisfying to win the division, you know, and these stretches happen,” Snitker said. “It’s not the first time we’ve been through a stretch like this where we’re getting short starts and all that. We’ve come out of it before and we will now.”
Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos and Johan Rojas also homered as the Phillies won the opener of a three-game series after losing three of four to their division rivals last week in Philadelphia.
“Whenever we match up with these guys it always feels like it's going to be a dogfight,” Schwarber said. “We've just got to keep going and keep pushing. Nothing is guaranteed, and we've just got to make sure when we get to that spot we can be happy, but we're still striving to keep pushing and keep getting there.”
After Ozzie Albies' 31st homer put Atlanta up 1-0 in the first, Rojas' second long ball, an opposite-field shot to right in the second, gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Harper, a two-time NL MVP, hit his 18th homer, an opposite-field shot to left in the third, to make it 3-1. He began the game having just two hits in his last 32 at-bats on the road.
Realmuto went deep for the 19th time to pad the lead at 4-1 in the fourth. Castellanos' 25th homer sailed 429 feet to left and made it 5-1 in the sixth. Schwarber followed three batters later with the third-longest home run in the major leagues this year.
Wheeler (12-6) retired 10 straight following Albies' homer, then walked Matt Olson with two outs in the fourth. He faced trouble in the sixth, loading the bases on Olson's infield single but struck out Marcell Ozuna to end the threat.
Wheeler was charged with one run and three hits in six innings, rebounding from a 7-6 home loss to Atlanta last week. Three relievers finished a four-hitter.
“You've to mix it up against those guys,” said Wheeler, who has 200 strikeouts for the second time in his career and the first since he led the NL two years ago with 247. “So just moving it all around and I saw that they were chasing kind of early, so we just stayed with that."
Kyle Wright (0-3) gave up four runs on three homers, five hits and four walks in four-plus innings. Michael Tonkin allowed the other two long balls.
It was the seventh start of the season for Wright, a 21-game winner a year ago who spent most of this season on the injured list with shoulder inflammation.
“I think he’s doing great for a kid who had no spring training, no regular season until now, and I don’t think you can expect more much out of what he’s doing,” Snitker said. “That’s kind of a tall order for a guy.”
Atlanta has 289 long balls, by far the most in the majors. After Ozuna went deep on Sunday, the Braves became the first team in history to have four players with at least 35 homers in a season.
CLOSING IN ON HISTORY
Schwarber is batting just .197, but he needs one RBI to become the 13th player since 1920 with at least 45 homers, 100 RBIs, 120 walks and 100 runs in a season. The others are Babe Ruth (eight times), Barry Bonds (four times), Mark McGwire (twice), Lou Gehrig, Chipper Jones, Aaron Judge, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt and Jim Thome.
Braves: LHP Max Fried will receive extra rest because the team worries he might develop a blister on one of his fingers. Snitker said Fried got a hot spot on his finger in his last start, a win Sept. 12 at Philadelphia. ... RF Ronald Acuña Jr., a strong contender for the NL MVP award, was back in the lineup after missing two games with right calf tightness and went 1 for 4 with a double. Acuña hit the farthest homer in the history of Truist Park, which opened in 2017, at 495 feet on Sept. 25, 2020 against Boston.
Braves RHP Spencer Strider (17-5, 3.73 ERA) will face LHP Cristopher Sánchez (2-4, 3.40) on Tuesday.
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