Braves take advantage of Phillies' miscues, even NLDS at a game apiece


ATLANTA -- The National League Division Series between the Phillies and Atlanta Braves is tied at a game apiece.

The Braves evened the best-of-five series Wednesday night with a 3-0 win at Truist Park.

Game 3 will be played Friday afternoon in Philadelphia.

The Phillies gave away Game 2 in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Zack Wheeler, who retired 17 of the first 18 men he faced, hit Braves leadoff man Ronald Acuña Jr. with a first-pitch fastball with two outs in the frame.

The hit batsman started a chain of events that saw the Phillies give up three runs in the inning.

With Acuña Jr. on first base, Wheeler issued his first walk of the game on a 3-2 pitch to Dansby Swanson. The next batter, Matt Olson, stroked a 1-2 slider on the ground to first baseman Rhys Hoskins. What appeared to be a makeable, inning-ending play, turned into the first run of the game when Hoskins could not make a backhand play on the ball. The eyes said the play was an error, but the Atlanta-based official scorer awarded Olson an RBI single.

After Hoskins' misplay, the Braves scored two more runs, one on an infield hit and another on a clean base hit by Travis d'Arnaud.

That was the ball game because the Phillies' offense did nothing to support Wheeler. The Phils had just three hits in the game. Atlanta right-hander Kyle Wright held the Phillies to two hits over six scoreless innings.

Kyle Schwarber and Hoskins went 0 for 8 with four strikeouts at the top of the order.

Hoskins is 1 for 18 with six strikeouts so far in the postseason.

Schwarber is 0 for 16 with eight strikeouts.

Schwarber turned around the Phillies' season batting leadoff in a huge month of June. Manager Rob Thomson is reluctant to take him out of his preferred leadoff spot.

"I've given no thought to it because that's who Schwarb is," Thomson said before the game. "He goes through some down times. But when they're good times and he's hot, he's as hot as anybody. So we'll just wait it out."

The Phils had a good chance to get to Wright in the second inning. Bryce Harper doubled and moved up on a fly ball by Nick Castellanos. Harper was stranded at third when Alec Bohm grounded out and Brandon Marsh struck out.

The start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 53 minutes by rain. The delay did not bother the starting pitchers.

Wheeler retired the first nine batters he faced and got through the first five innings on just 50 pitches.

His night unraveled when he hit Acuña Jr. with two outs in the sixth. After getting hit near the inside of his right elbow, Acuña Jr. was tended to by Braves' athletic trainers for a few minutes behind home plate. During the delay, Wheeler, who grew up and went to high school just 45 minutes from Truist Field, was booed loudly by the sellout crowd of 42,735.

The boos turned to cheers when Wheeler walked Swanson and got louder when Hoskins could not handle Olson's ground ball.

Because of the late start, the Phillies changed their travel plans and pushed back their charter flight to Philadelphia to Thursday morning. 

The Phils will play their first home postseason game since October 7, 2011 on Friday afternoon. Aaron Nola will start that game for the Phillies.

The Braves have not named a starter. Spencer Strider, who dominated the Phillies this season but missed time in September with an oblique strain, is a possibility. So is Charlie Morton.

Strider was 4-0 against the Phillies this season. He allowed just three runs in 21⅔ innings and struck out 34. If Strider starts, he might be held to just a couple of innings because he has not pitched since September 18 when he gave up just one hit and struck out 10 in six innings against the Phillies. 

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