Colon Struggles Again As Braves Lose To Phillies

By The Sports Xchange

ATLANTA — The Philadelphia Phillies are finally clicking offensively, and struggling Atlanta Braves veteran Bartolo Colon was the victim Monday night.

Odubel Herrera, emerging from a lengthy slump, had a home run and two doubles for the second straight game, and Tommy Joseph and Aaron Altherr also homered in Philadelphia’s 11-4 win in its first visit to SunTrust Park.

“I liked the ballpark at first sight, and I think our hitters liked the ballpark,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “We’ve swung the bats well for three games now. … Hitting is contagious. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

The Phillies (20-35) have scored 25 runs in a three-game winning streak that began with two home victories over San Francisco after 25 losses in the previous 31 games.

Joseph and Altherr joined Herrera with three hits, and both had three RBIs. Herrera has been the focus of the offensive revival, though.

“He looks like the guy we know he can be, and it’s great to see,” Mackanin said.

Joseph said of Herrera, “It’s been pretty awesome to watch. Any time he swings the stick, it’s a barrel. Good for him. He’s a big weapon at the top of the order because he can do so much, so it is good to get him going.”

The Phillies’ outburst gave rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta his first major league victory.

Recalled from Triple-A to take the place of injured starter Vince Velasquez, Pivetta (1-2) allowed six hits and three runs in five innings. He walked three and struck out four in his fifth major league start.

Colon (2-7) gave eight runs in 3 2/3 innings and is in jeopardy of losing his spot in the Braves’ rotation. He signed for $12.5 million as a free agent after making the All-Star Game for the fourth time last year while with the New York Mets.

“We’ve got to think about it going forward,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said when asked Colon’s rotation standing. “I haven’t made a decision about the next one. We’ll see.”

Seven of the nine runs Colon gave up in 2 1/3 innings in his previous start against the Los Angeles Angels were unearned, but the Atlanta defense didn’t have a hand in his demise this time.

Colon surrendered seven hits — six of them for extra bases — and opponents are batting .332 against him. He also walked two to go with four strikeouts as his already-high ERA jumped to 7.78.

“Right now, I’m in a bad streak,” Colon said through a translator. “My entire career I’ve never had a start to a season that has gone this way. That’s baseball. I have to keep going and get out of it.”

Ender Inciarte, who went 5-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs at Cincinnati on Sunday, was the only bright spot for the Braves (24-31). The center fielder walked his first two times up and then had hits in his next two at-bats before bouncing out to end the game.

Colon was 10-3 with a 3.01 ERA against Philadelphia the past three seasons while with the New York Mets, but the Phillies gave the 44-year-old right-hander a second straight pounding as a Brave.

“His location obviously isn’t what it has been in the past,” Mackanin said.

Herrera doubled to start the Phillies’ three-run first inning. He scored on a single by Altherr, and then Joseph pulled a towering two-run homer down the left field line on the first pitch he saw from Colon.

Joseph had an RBI double in the third inning.

Colon couldn’t get out of the fourth, giving up a run-scoring double to Andrew Knapp and a two-run single by Cesar Hernandez. Reliever Sam Freeman served up a two-run homer to Herrera to complete the five-run inning.

NOTES: Braves LHP Jamie Garcia (2-3, 3.18 ERA) will start the second game of the four-game series on Tuesday against Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (2-3, 5.06 ERA). … On Sunday at Cincinnati, CF Ender Inciarte became just the fourth Atlanta player to have multiple five-hit games in the same season. Kenny Lofton accomplished it three times in 1997. Felix Milan (1970), Gerald Perry (1986) and Fred McGriff (1996) did it twice. … Atlanta native Jeff Francoeur, who played for both the Braves and Phillies, made his TV broadcasting debut as an analyst on the Braves’ pregame and postgame shows. He retired after not finding a playing opportunity this season.

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