By The Sports Xchange
ATLANTA — On a roster loaded with young talent, it was a couple of old guys who made the difference for the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
Brandon Phillips, 35, homered for the third straight game and 42-year-old R.A. Dickey pitched seven strong innings to help the Braves extend their winning streak to four with a 3-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at SunTrust Park.
Phillips was 2-for-4 and scored two runs, but it was his two-run homer that landed in the back of the left-field bullpen, his seventh, in the third inning that was the decider. Phillips was wearing special cleats with the name of his son, Micah, who celebrated his fourth birthday on Sunday.
“It feels good to come home and play in front of my family and friends and just be with my babies all the time,” said Phillips, an Atlanta native who was acquired from Cincinnati in February.
Dickey (6-5) gave up his only run in the first but settled down to complete seven innings, allowing five hits and one walk with six strikeouts. He retired the minimum from the second through fifth innings. Of the 99 pitches he threw, 71 were for strikes.
“He was getting ahead of guys, working it both ways, more left to right than up and down, then the shadows creep in the middle of the game,” Milwaukee third baseman Travis Shaw said. “Throwing consistent strikes like that makes it tough.”
Dickey has won four straight decisions at SunTrust Park and is 3-0 with an 0.86 in his last three starts there, with 20 strikeouts. He has now thrown seven innings in back-to-back games to help the weary Atlanta bullpen.
“It wasn’t maybe as good movement as I’ve had the last three games,” Dickey said. “I had a good enough one to be able to change speeds with and it was in the strike zone a large percentage of the game. Those things add up to a pretty good outing.”
Jim Johnson worked a scoreless ninth inning, striking out two, for his 15th save.
Atlanta (36-38) has won seven of its last eight and pulled within two games of .500 for the first time since April 29.
Milwaukee’s Matt Garza (3-4) pitched six innings and allowed three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts.
The Brewers scored a run in the first inning. Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana singled and advanced on a double steal. Shaw walked to load the bases. Broxton scored on a fielder’s choice and Dickey struck out Jett Bandy to end the threat.
“We had a nice rally in the first inning but we didn’t really generate anything after that, no scoring opportunities after that,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.
The Braves tied it in the bottom of the inning. Phillips and Matt Adams singled and Phillips scored on an RBI single by Tyler Flowers.
Atlanta added two more when Phillips delivered a two-run homer in the third inning when Garza left a changeup too high in the zone.
“He just left something middle in, trying to go down and away,” Counsell said. “Matt’s stuff got better as the game went along. He put up three zeros after home run. He ended up giving us a quality start, but not enough offense today.”
Milwaukee (40-37) threatened in the eighth when reliever Jose Ramirez walked pinch hitter Eric Sogard. After retiring Broxton on a fly to center, Atlanta went to left-hander Sam Freeman, who struck out Eric Thames and Santana.
NOTES: Milwaukee OF Nick Franklin was ejected in the first inning. Franklin, who was not in the starting lineup, could be heard blasting the umpires for allowing Atlanta an excessive amount of time to determine whether it would challenge a call on a pickoff play at first base. Home-plate umpire Ben May yelled back at Franklin, “I heard you.” But Franklin got the thumb from crew chief Jerry Meals, who was working second base. Manager Craig Counsell said, “You can’t get ejected there. … It puts you behind the eight-ball. Somebody else should do the arguing there.” … The Braves have scored 128 runs in June, the most since the 2005 team had 138. The franchise record is 159 set in 1976. … OF Ender Inciarte singled in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to seven games. SS Dansby Swanson singled in the eighth and has hit in eight straight games. … The Brewers had their streak of homering in 11 straight games end. … Phillips is the first Atlanta player to homer in three consecutive games since Justin Upton in 2014.