By Sam Bush
Corey Dickerson homered twice as the Phillies hit five home runs overall in a 6-5 win over the Atlanta Brave that closed them to within two games of the Chicago Cubs for the NL’s second wild card.
J. T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Dickerson all homered in the first inning, Scott Kingery tagged an inside-the-park homer and Dickerson tacked an insurance run with a solo shot late to help the Phillies win for the third time in four games.
The Phillies came out swinging in the first against starter Max Fried (16-5). Realmuto opened the home run surge when he clanged his 24th of the season off the left field foul pole for a 1-0 lead. Harper drilled the next pitch into right for his 31st home run to give the Phillies back-to-back homers for the eighth time this year. Rhys Hoskins came inches from a third straight home run, but settled for a double off the center field wall.
Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz came out to settle Fried, but it didn’t work. Dickerson lined a shot over the right field wall for a 4-0 lead and Philadelphia homered three times in the first for the first time since 2009.
“It’s a good-hitting team over there and when you leave some pitches over the middle of the plate that aren’t as sharp as they normally are, they’re going to hit them,” Fried said.
The Phillies went deep off Fried one more time in the third inning to take the lead for good. Kingery hit a deep shot that centerfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. brought back from over the fence. But the ball popped out of his glove and Kingery scampered all the way around for a head-first slide and inside-the-park homer and a 5-4 lead.
“We weren’t sure if it was a home run,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “Kingery wasn’t sure if it was a home run. Acuna wasn’t sure if it was a home run. King never stopped running.”
His head-first slide was an instant season highlight.
“One of the more exciting plays we’ve seen all year,” Kapler said.
Jason Vargas failed to hold the early cushion.
Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson cut it to 4-2 with RBI singles. With the bases loaded and one out, Francisco Cervelli hit a dribbler toward the mound that Vargas scooped with his mitt and shoveled to Realmuto. Vargas had time for a clean exchange but the hustled toss turned into an error and made it 4-3. Austin Riley’s deep drive to center was snagged by Kingery on a diving catch, but the sac fly was enough to tie the game at 4-all.
Dickerson added a solo shot in the sixth for a 6-4 lead.