By The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA — It was a veteran who provided much of the offense, but it was a pair of rookies that came up with the decisive defensive plays for the Atlanta Braves on Friday.
Brandon Phillips had a home run and a double, while fielding gems by third baseman Johan Camargo and shortstop Dansby Swanson were instrumental in helping the Braves survive a near-bullpen meltdown to hang on for a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night at SunTrust Park.
Atlanta has won six of its last seven games.
“The game came down to they made some defensive plays, some excellent defensive plays at the end of the game,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
Phillips was 2-for-5, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs to pace the Atlanta attack. The second baseman showed no signs of the groin issue that caused him to leave Thursday night’s game early.
But it was Atlanta’s defense in the late innings that saved the day.
Atlanta appeared to be in control with a 5-1 lead after six innings when the Brewers’ bats took advantage of some shaky relief work.
Milwaukee scored a run against Sam Freeman in the seventh on Domingo Santana’s RBI single.
The Brewers scored twice in the eighth on a sharp two-run double by Orlando Arcia. After Lewis Brinson was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second, the Braves escaped disaster when pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar ripped a grounder to third base that Camargo was able to backhand and turn into a double play.
Arodys Vizcaino pitched the ninth inning for the Braves and earned his first save, but it didn’t come without drama. Eric Thames led off with a double, but was retired at third when he tried to advance on Santana’s ground ball. The hard-hit grounder was fielded by Swanson, who turned and threw accurately to get the sliding Thames.
“That play Dansby made – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “That ball’s up the middle and you go to third base. To have the guts to make that play is the biggest thing to me. The conviction — there wasn’t any hesitation.”
Swanson said: “It kind of went through my head before happened, really. It’s just kind of crazy how you can process something before it happens and when it does happen, it just kind of becomes a reaction.”
Vizcaino retired Travis Shaw on a fly ball to the warning track, which allowed Santana to move to second base. The game ended when Swanson dove to catch Manny Pina’s line drive.
“The ball Aguilar hit was a great double play and the ball that Domingo hit, that’s a really nice play,” Counsell said. “Most shortstops are throwing that ball to first base.”
Winning pitcher Mike Foltynewicz (5-5) suffered from a high pitch count and lasted only five innings. The right-hander allowed one run on four hits and three walks, with nine strikeouts. It is the fourth time in his last five starts that Foltynewicz has allowed two or fewer runs.
Losing pitcher Jimmy Nelson (5-4) worked five innings and allowed four runs on six hits and three walks. He struck out eight. It was Nelson’s first loss since May 23.
The Braves scored twice in the first inning. Phillips hit the first pitch he saw from Nelson into the first row of seats in the left-field stands for his sixth home run.
Nick Markakis walked, went to third on Matt Adams’ single and scored on a ground ball. Tyler Flowers hit a double-play ball to second, which Eric Sogard flipped to second, only to have shortstop Orlando Arcia drop the exchange, which allowed the run to score.
The Brewers made it 2-1 in the fourth when Keon Broxton hit a solo home run, his 12th, to straightaway center field.
Rain began to fall, heavy at times, during the fifth inning, but the Braves were able to score two more times. Phillips doubled home a run and scored when Flowers drove an opposite-field single to right.
NOTES: Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman, on the disabled list since May 18 with a fractured left wrist, said Friday his goal is to return to the team for the four-game series against Washington the weekend prior to the All-Star Game. … Atlanta RHP Bartolo Colon will pitch a bullpen session on Saturday and be re-assessed. The veteran was placed on the disabled list on June 6 with an oblique strain and had his stay extended when he complained of a sore back. … Atlanta LF Matt Kemp was not in the starting lineup on Friday as a precautionary measure. Kemp left Thursday’s game early with tightness in his hamstring. 2B Brandon Phillips, who also left Thursday’s game early with a slight groin pull, returned to the starting lineup. … Milwaukee OF Ryan Braun (left calf strain) and 2B Jonathan Villar (lower back strain) continue their rehab assignment with Class A Wisconsin. … Milwaukee’s Eric Sogard was 0-for-2, snapping his 10-game hitting streak.