The Atlanta Braves didn't get a chance to play on Wednesday evening due to rain in the area. Fortunately, the rain cleared to allow the Phillies and Braves to play a second game in this originally scheduled three-game series.
A.J. Smith-Shawver was originally scheduled to pitch in the game that was postponed on Wednesday. Instead of just sending him out on the mound, the Braves decided to move A.J. to Friday's game in Cincinnati. That led to Bryce Elder starting on Thursday and facing off against Aaron Nola.
Thursday's matchup turned out to be a pitcher's duel between the two talented right-handers. Aaron Nola had been struggling in his most recent starts but looked pretty good on Thursday against the Braves. Nola allowed no runs on two hits with two walks and five strikeouts through six innings. Atlanta was able to get runners on base but just couldn't push one across against him.
Bryce Elder was absolutely incredible Thursday afternoon as he completed 7 innings of work allowing no runs on 3 hits with 2 walks and 6 strikeouts. Philly was able to get runners on against Elder but he was able to halt any momentum they grabbed. Elder is now 5-1 on the season with a 2.40 ERA covering 90 innings pitched. He looks like he is ready for an All-Star selection this Summer.
There wasn't a lot of offense to go around as the bullpens for each team pitched very well to keep things tied at zero through nine complete innings. The Braves bullpen was great on Thursday as A.J. Minter and Raisel Iglesias combined for two innings of relief allowing no runs on no hits with zero walks and four strikeouts.
As we headed into extras, things were a little different as Sam Hilliard checked in as a pinch runner at second base. Hilliard advanced to third base on a groundout to first base by Orlando Arcia. Michael Harris II then drove in the game's first run on a single that got through the infield.
This was a good sign to see from a Braves team who has often struggled with runners in scoring position. However, Atlanta's offense decided they weren't done as Ronald Acuna Jr singled to put runners on first and third. Then, after Ozzie Albies struck out swinging for the second out, Austin Riley laced a single to left field to score two more runs. Schwarber looked like he was going to catch the ball but misplayed it badly.
Marcell Ozuna then decided three runs weren't enough as he launched a two-run homer into the seats in left field. Matt Olson, unfortunately, struck out to end the top half of the 10th inning. Atlanta now carried a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.
Nick Anderson checked in for the bullpen in the bottom of the tenth and allowed a lead-off single to Bryson Stott that advanced J.T. Realmuto to third base. Realmuto scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Alec Bohm to bring the Phillies within four runs.
Anderson was then able to get Kody Clemons to pop out to second base but then walked former Braves prospect Christian Pache in the next at-bat to give Philadelphia runners at first and second with two outs. Fortunately, Kyle Schwarber grounded out to Matt Olson to seal the Braves' win in their final game of this series.
Atlanta is now 48-26 on the season and remains in first place in the NL East. The Phillies losing Thursday's game put them 10 games back from the Braves and third in the division. The Braves are slowly starting to pull away from the second-place Marlins as well who find themselves 6.5 games back of the Braves in the division.
The Braves now head to Cincinnati to face one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Reds are leading the NL Central and are currently on an eleven-game winning streak. A.J. Smith-Shawver will face-off against Luke Weaver at 6:40 PM EST on Friday.