A frustrating night for the Atlanta Braves ended up costing them the advantage in the race for home field in the NL playoffs.
Atlanta (95-66) slipped behind St. Louis on Saturday for the league's best record with a 5-4 loss to the Phillies. The Braves committed three errors, with two coming in a two-run seventh for Philadelphia, which had lost three in a row and eight of nine. Atlanta rallied for three runs in the ninth, but Chris Johnson was called out on a slide into first base to end the game with two men on base.
Johnson was seen exchanging heated words with first base coach Terry Pendleton in the dugout following the play, though Johnson declined to comment on it after the game. He's 2 for his last 23 with 10 strikeouts, dropping his batting average 11 points to .321. Michael Cuddyer leads the league with a .333 average.
The Braves will need a victory Sunday - combined with a Cardinals loss - to claim home-field advantage by virtue of a tiebreaker. Atlanta won the season series with St. Louis, 4-3.
"That's still a big carrot for us, for us to win and St. Louis to lose to get the No. 1 seed," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Teheran (13-8, 3.09 ERA) will take the mound against the Phillies (73-88), whose five runs Saturday matched the club's total from its previous five games. He's 6-3 with a 2.66 ERA in 11 outings since the All-Star break, though that includes a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 12. He went six innings and yielded four runs and six hits, including a home run to Cody Asche .
He is 3-1 in his last four games after striking out seven over six innings of a 5-2 road win over the Chicago Cubs last Sunday. The right-hander also hasn't walked a batter over 12 2-3 innings in his last two starts after issuing 14 bases on balls over 25 innings in his previous four.
"He's been unbelievable all year and what he did today in the six innings that he pitched was pretty unbelievable," Freddie Freeman , who is 25 for 56 (.446) over his last 17 game, told the team's official website. "It was a big day and he did an unbelievable job."
Atlanta catcher Brian McCann missed his second straight contest Saturday since leaving Thursday's game with a strained adductor muscle, but Gonzalez said he might be available Sunday.
Zach Miner (0-1, 3.08) will get the nod for the Phillies. After being called upon when Kyle Kendrick was shut down due to an injury, he's limited opponents to one run over seven innings over his first two big league starts since 2009.
The right-hander made two relief appearances versus Atlanta earlier in the year, throwing 5 1-3 scoreless innings with three hits and a walk.
|September 23, 2013||Roy Halladay||Day-to-Day||Right arm fatigue|
|September 14, 2013||Kyle Kendrick||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 30, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right Achilles|
|August 28, 2013||Cody Asche||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|August 26, 2013||Casper Wells||15-Day DL||Vision complications|
|August 26, 2013||Casper Wells||15-Day DL||Vision complications|
|September 26, 2013||Brian McCann||Day-to-Day||Right adductor strain|
|September 26, 2013||Jordan Walden||Day-to-Day||Groin|
|September 11, 2013||Paul Maholm||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|September 10, 2013||Justin Upton||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 29, 2013||Justin Upton||Day-to-Day||Left hand injury|
|August 22, 2013||Jason Heyward||15-Day DL||Fractured right jaw|
ATLANTA (AP) -- The Braves finished off the regular season with their 96th win, their most in nine years. They'd like 11 more victories.
"Now the fun begins," said manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Evan Gattis had a two-run homer among his three hits, Elliot Johnson drove in five runs and NL East champion Atlanta beat the Philadelphia Phillies 12-5 on Sunday.
The Braves won their first division title since 2005. They will have home-field advantage against the Dodgers in the NL division series, which begins Thursday at Turner Field.
"You get to create a whole new identity in the postseason," Johnson said. "Hopefully it goes our way."
Atlanta (96-66) finished with its best record since also winning 96 games in 2004.
"I'm proud of a good season, 30 games over .500, 96 wins," Gonzalez said. "It's a hell of an accomplishment for our club."
The Braves needed St. Louis to lose for a shot a home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. But the Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-0 to lock up the top spot.
Erik Kratz hit a three-run homer for the Phillies, who trailed 5-0 after three innings.
Philadelphia (73-89) finished fourth in the NL East with its worst record and finish since 2000, when it was in last place at 65-97.
The Phillies watched after the game as Braves players gathered for a photo around a 2013 sign that was placed on a stand in front of the mound.
"This isn't the situation that you envisioned going into spring training," said Phillies second baseman Chase Utley , who had two hits to finish at .284.
"If there is a bright spot, it gives us an opportunity to get to work a little bit sooner. We can start improving next week."
Johnson had a two-run triple in the sixth and a two-run single in the eighth while setting his career high with five RBIs. He started at third base as Chris Johnson was given a day off to rest his sore right shoulder.
Braves catcher Gerald Laird had four hits and scored four runs. Jose Constanza drove in two runs with a pinch-hit single in the fifth after the Phillies cut the lead to 5-4.
After five straight first-place finishes, the Phillies fell to 81-81 last season. The decline continued this season, and manager Charlie Manuel was fired on Aug 16.
The Phillies were 20-22 under Manuel's replacement, Ryne Sandberg , who was given a three-year contract on Sept. 22.
Gattis and Julio Teheran (14-8) were the Braves' top rookies this season. Teheran allowed four runs on six hits in five innings.
Gattis finished second among NL rookies with 21 homers, behind San Diego's Jedd Gyorko . He leads all rookies in the majors with 65 RBIs. Gattis has started at catcher, left field and first base and is expected to start in left field in the playoffs if catcher Brian McCann returns from an adductor injury, as expected.
"I'm happy with my year," Gattis said. "I feel like I've got a whole bunch I can do better. I'm not that happy, if it makes any sense."
McCann has not played since Thursday.
"I fully expect him to be ready to go," Gonzalez said.
Freddie Freeman had two hits, including a run-scoring single in the Braves' three-run first. For the season he hit .319 with 23 homers and 109 RBIs.
Zach Miner (0-2), who began his career in the Braves' organization, gave up five runs on seven hits and three in only 2 1-3 innings. Six Phillies pitchers combined for nine walks.
Phillies third baseman Cody Asche needed seven stitches after leaving the game with a cut chin in the first inning. He was hurt when a throw from left fielder Domonic Brown bounced and hit his chin as Jason Heyward was sliding into third base. Freddy Galvis replaced Asche.
Phillies rookie right-hander Tyler Cloyd , who made 11 starts, gave up two runs on three hits in the eighth in only his second relief appearance.
Braves closer Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth.
NOTES: The Braves will be off on Monday before having workouts Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare for their NL division series. ... Gonzalez said the decision to start Elliot Johnson had nothing to do with Chris Johnson 's dugout altercation with first base coach Terry Pendleton after Saturday night's loss. Chris Johnson said he apologized to Pendleton for throwing his helmet, which he said bounced and hit Pendleton. Pendleton then grabbed Johnson's jersey with two hands and the two exchanged words. ... The Braves' season attendance was 2,548,679, their top total since 2007. Sunday's turnout was 42,194. ... Laird's four hits matched his career high.