By The Sports Xchange
PHILADELPHIA — Left fielder Matt Kemp showed a flair for the dramatic on Friday night, hitting a game-tying home run in the fifth inning and picking up his fourth RBI of the night in a four-run ninth inning, leading the Atlanta Braves to an 8-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in front of a sparse crowd of 17,175 at Citizens Bank Park.
Center fielder Ender Inciarte added three hits to extend his hit streak to 13 games for the Braves, who have the National League’s worst record but have now won five straight.
The Phillies, who have now lost four in a row and six of their last seven, jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a three-run homer by catcher A.J. Ellis, but saw the Braves tie it in the fifth and break it open in the ninth when reliever Jeanmar Gomez allowed two runs on four hits and was removed without retiring a batter. Gomez was charged with all four runs by the Braves.
The Braves opened the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles by Inciarte and third baseman Adonis Garcia before first baseman Freddie Freeman gave Atlanta its first lead of the game with an RBI double. Kemp followed with an RBI single and the Braves made it 8-4 on an RBI from right fielder Nick Markakis and catcher Tyler Flowers.
The Phillies threatened in the eighth when third baseman Maikel Franco and first baseman Ryan Howard opened the inning with singles, but Braves reliever Mauricio Cabrera (3-0) wriggled out of the jam by striking out the side.
Both starting pitchers left the game with the score tied at 4-4 and received no-decisions.
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson (104 pitches) allowed four runs on five hits in six innings to remain 10-8 this season, while Braves starter Joel De La Cruz (0-7) surrendered four runs on six hits in five innings and failed to pick up his first win of the season.
The Phillies opened the scoring on an RBI double by Howard in the first inning. Howard lined a pitch from De La Cruz down the left-field line, scoring second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who opened the inning with a walk and moved to second on a groundout.
The double marked Ryan’s 46th RBI of the season and was his 25th extra-base hit in his last 42 hits.
The Phillies pushed their lead to 4-0 in the second inning when Ellis belted a first-pitch, three-run shot into the right-field seats for his second homer of the season. Phillies left fielder Darin Ruf, who had singled, and shortstop Freddy Galvis, who had doubled, trotted home ahead of Ellis to give Hellickson an early cushion.
Thanks to a pair of fine defensive plays by Hernandez in the first two innings, Hellickson carried a two-hit shutout into the fifth inning, but saw that shutout, and the Phillies’ lead, disappear.
After an infield single by Inciarte chased home shortstop Gordon Beckham, who opened the inning with a double, Hellickson walked first baseman Freddie Freeman. With two on and two out, Hellickson got ahead of Kemp with a pair of strikes, but Kemp reached down to hit an ankle-high changeup into the deepest part of the ballpark for his 27th home run of the season, tying the score at 4-4.
NOTES: Phillies 1B Ryan Howard was back in the starting lineup, three days after Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said he planned on reducing Howard’s playing time in September. Howard entered the game hitting .303 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs since the All-Star break. … Before the game, the Braves reinstated RHP Williams Perez from the 60-day disabled list Perez is 2-2 in nine appearances for the Braves this season with a 4.62 ERA. … The weekend series between the Phillies and Braves continues Saturday night when Atlanta RHP John Gant (1-3, 4.59 ERA) faces Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (8-6, 4.21 ERA).