Braves Drop Series Opener to Phillies

BravesAaron Harang and Shelby Miller came into Thursday night’s Braves-Phillies game a combined 0-14 since May 17. Harang broke his streak. Miller didn’t. Harang threw five innings in his first start since July 1 — when he went on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis — in the Phillies’ 4-1 win at Citizens Bank Park. The winning decision for Harang ended a streak of eight straight starts in which he registered the losing decision and nine straight winless starts in total. He allowed just one run despite the nine hits he surrendered and struck out three. “All of his pitches were sharp,” Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. “He threw strikes. He just had a higher pitch count than we like. That’s why we took him out of the game. But he certainly looked like a different guy than he was while he was pitching with that foot injury. We were real pleased with his performance.”

The loss for the Braves was their fourth in a row and seventh in eight games. Phillies bats found Miller’s pitches early as he worked up to 59 pitches through the first three innings, but it wasn’t until the fourth — when four Phillies in a row singled — that Philadelphia was able to break through against the right-hander. Limited run support has led Miller to go winless while posting a 3.19 ERA over his past 13 starts.
“It was definitely hot, but I don’t think that was the reason at all,” said Miller, who changed his jersey multiple times while sweating profusely throughout the outing. “You play the game in humidity. Atlanta is hot and here is hot. You’ve got to get used to that. There is no excuse for that.”

Miller entered this game with 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the Phillies and a 2.03 ERA in six career starts against them. But Atlanta’s All-Star hurler started to waver after he allowed four consecutive one-out singles in the fourth and then three consecutive one-out singles in the fifth. The 11 hits he surrendered matched the career high he allowed on July 10 at Coors Field vs. the Rockies.

The Braves have scored three runs or fewer in eight straight games and in 10 of 13 games since the All-Star break. They loaded the bases with three straight singles to begin the third inning. But after Freddie Freeman struck out, A.J. Pierzynski’s two-out infield single accounted for the only run produced with with that threat against Harang, who has allowed one run in 19 innings against his former Atlanta teammates this year. “[Freeman] is the guy you want there and it didn’t happen,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I’ll take my chances there with him every single time in that situation.”

This game was just the fifth the Braves have played, dating back to 2000, during which they scored one run or less while recording at least 12 hits.

Williams Perez will make his first start in more than a month when Atlanta and Philadelphia resume their four-game series on Friday night at 6:05 p.m. CT. Perez has been sidelined since a liner struck his left foot during a June 26 start in Pittsburgh. Thunder Radio will bring you that broadcast beginning at 6:00 PM