By The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves are 35-34 since the All-Star Game, and the hot hitting of Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp has fueled the turnaround. Don’t forget the contribution of rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson as well.
Swanson hit his first homer at Turner Field and scored the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning on Kemp’s double after a leadoff walk as the Braves defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Thursday night for their 10th victory in the past 11 games.
Swanson, acquired from Arizona after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, is batting .300 and the Braves are 22-17 since he was promoted from Double-A Mississippi on Aug. 17.
The former Vanderbilt All-American grew up in the Atlanta suburbs as a Braves fan, so homering at the ballpark where he grew up watching games before it closes this weekend had extra meaning.
“I’m just glad it got out,” Swanson said of his tying sixth-inning homer. “It’s pretty cool.”
The Phillies bullpen faltered again in losing to the Braves for the seventh straight time.
“We’re in a rut,” said Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin, whose team has allowed 68 runs in the past seven games.
Jeanmar Gomez (3-5) got just one out and gave up four runs on three hits, two walks (one intentional) and a hit batter.
“He’s just not getting the ball down in the zone. That’s been his issue,” Mackanin said.
Kemp’s double to the opposite field put the Braves ahead, then Jace Peterson had a RBI hit and rookie Rio Ruiz a two-run single.
“For Kemp to hit a ball like that to right field is pretty darn impressive,” Swanson said.
The Braves won despite Freeman failing to reach base safely for the first time since Aug. 6. The first baseman was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to snap a 30-game hitting streak and 46-game on-base stretch.
Josh Collmenter turned in his fourth straight strong start for the Braves since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs organization in early September.
Collmenter, the Opening Day starter for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015, allowed one run on six hits over seven innings. He struck out four, walked none and hit a batter in the no-decision.
“The whole atmosphere is not of a club in the position we’re in,” said Collmenter of the Braves still being last in the National League East. “Everybody is excited to come here every day. … You’re getting contributions from everybody.”
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, who scored a run, had to leave in the fourth inning after spraining his right knee while running the bases.
Swanson picked on a 3-1 fastball from reliever Colton Murray leading off the bottom of the sixth inning and pulled a drive to left field that just got over the glove of a leaping Cody Ashe for his third homer of the season.
Mauricio Cabrera (5-1) got credit for the victory after striking out pinch-hitter Darin Ruf to end the top of the eighth inning.
Jim Johnson, working in a non-save situation, gave up an RBI single to Aaron Altherr in the ninth.
Hellickson motioned to the Phillies dugout after striking out Swanson leading off the fourth inning and soon departed with the team trainer.
Hellickson allowed just a second-inning single by Anthony Recker and struck out four in his 3 1/3 innings. The veteran right-hander also scored the Phillies’ first run.
Collmenter allowed a one-out single to Hellickson in the third. Freddy Galves was hit by a pitch with two outs and Odubel Herrera drove in Hellickson with an opposite-field bloop single.
NOTES: The Detroit Tigers, battling for an American League wild-card spot, come to Atlanta for a weekend interleague series that concludes the Braves’ 20th and final season at Turner Field. SunTrust Park in suburban Cobb County opens next year. … As part of final-week festivities, fans were allowed on the field before the series finale with the Phillies for selfies with Braves players. Neither team took batting practice because of the event. … The Phillies conclude the season with a three-game home series against the New York Mets starting Friday. … 1B Ryan Howard, whose 23 homers are the most for a visiting player at Turner Field, was given the night off. … Braves rookie SS Dansby Swanson batted second for the first time, and rookie 3B Rio Ruiz, who had his first hit Wednesday, received his first start.