Phillies Game Story

Big weekend goal achieved as Turner powers Phillies past mistake-prone Braves

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ATLANTA — Maybe Trea Turner should be in the Home Run Derby, too.

The Phillies knew they needed others to step up when Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber joined J.T. Realmuto on the injured list last Friday and Turner has done nothing but rake since.

He began the Phillies' road trip at Wrigley Field this week with a pair of two-run homers to left-center in a two-run win and lofted two more over the wall in left-center Friday night at Truist Park to lead the Phillies to an 8-6 win over the rival Braves.

"When I'm going like this, I'm not necessarily trying to do that," he said. "I think it's more of I load right, I don't feel like I'm cheating, I'm not yanking the ball, just kind of letting it happen. I just feel like my swing's in a way better spot, my decision-making, my ability to adjust has been way better this year than last and for my career that's more typical, being able to make adjustments."

Turner has been on fire over his last nine games with seven extra-base hits, 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. He's hit .343 since returning from the injured list.

"That's who he is," manager Rob Thomson said. "When he gets hot, he gets hotter than heck. He's not the biggest man on the planet and I don't know how he hits the ball so far. He's got bat speed and he barrels things up and when gets it up in the air, it goes. It's really incredible to me.

"For him to be down all that time and not go on a rehab assignment and have the at-bats that he's had since he's been back, it's a testament to the athlete and the shape he's in."

It had the makings of a potentially frustrating night and start to a big series before Turner and the Phillies finally broke through against Max Fried in the fourth inning. They'd stranded six baserunners through the first three with a failed safety squeeze by Johan Rojas and a bases-loaded groundout from Whit Merrifield.

They pushed across their first run on a fielder's choice beaten out by Bryson Stott, and Turner followed with his first two-run homer. Cristian Pache preceded them with his best at-bat in weeks, an eight-pitch single that advanced Johan Rojas to third base.

The bottom of the order looked like a clear weakness when the Phillies lost Harper and Schwarber to injuries two weeks after Realmuto underwent surgery on his right meniscus. Friday night, for example, their 6-7-8-9 was Merrifield, Rafael Marchan, Rojas and Pache.

Yet the win at Truist Park made the Phillies 5-2 without their trio of big-money bats. Most of that has been thanks to the pitching staff, Turner, Nick Castellanos and Alec Bohm, who found out Friday he'd be participating in the Home Run Derby in addition to starting the All-Star Game.

But Marchan and Garrett Stubbs have also held their own at the plate, Pache helped fuel the first rally Friday and Rojas made a huge defensive play to help close out Wednesday's win in Chicago before singling twice with an RBI and stolen base in Atlanta.

The Phillies are 58-30 on the season with an enormous 10-game lead over the Braves.

Aaron Nola held Atlanta in check early on. This was his 37th career start against the Braves and he generated funky swings the first two times through the order against hitters who have seen him a zillion times like Ozzie Albies, Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall and Orlando Arcia.

Nola (10-4, 3.48) didn't put a man on base until Albies singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Austin Riley, a .365 career hitter against him with five doubles and six home runs, followed by taking Nola deep to center to make it a one-run game.

Albies hit a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth to bring the Braves closer but Ozuna lined out as the tying run to end Nola's night. The Braves committed three errors in the top of the seventh and by the time the Phillies went to Orion Kerkering, the first reliever out of the 'pen, the lead had ballooned to five, a lead comfortable enough to withstand Ozuna's three-run shot off Jose Alvarado an inning later.

Jeff Hoffman earned the save, his eighth to Alvarado's 13.

The Phils try for a series win Saturday night as Ranger Suarez opposes rookie right-hander Spencer Schwellenbach. They've already achieved an important weekend goal as they knew entering the series that anything other than a sweep would allow them to return home with a division lead of at least eight games.

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