BRAVES ON THE ROAD TO WORLD SERIES, PHILS JUST ROAD KILL!

By Sally Fahey

The Braves clinched their sixth straight NL East title, beating the Phillies 4-1 behind Spencer Strider’s major league-leading 17th win and Austin Riley’s two-run homer.

Atlanta (96-50) clinched in 146 games, its second-quickest clinch in the divisional era. The division title was the Braves’ record 26th, two more than the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees,

The Braves have seemingly made winning the East a rite of September since the 1990s and this year’s team looks loaded enough to win their third World Series since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. Over that span, Atlanta won 11 straight NL East titles from 1995-2005, and the World Series in 1995 and 2021.

Atlanta took special satisfaction in clinching on the same Citizens Bank Park field where the Phillies eliminated them last October in the NL Division Series. The Phillies won that series 3-1 — just as Atlanta won this four-game set.

The Phillies lead the NL wild card and the teams could face each other in October.

For now, September belongs to the Braves.

“Did we want it to be on our field? No,” Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber said. “But they’re going to have to do it somewhere. The focus is on us, still. We’re going to keep pushing until the very end.”

Riley, one of many big boppers in the lineup, gave the Braves all the runs they needed when he connected off Cristopher Sánchez (2-4) in the first for his 35th homer.

“I try not to think of moments like that,” Riley said. “You just try and go up there and have a good at-bat. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself this year to perform in those moments. I was able to put a good swing on there.”

Riley had a sacrifice fly in the third and Kevin Pillar added an RBI double in the fourth for a 4-1 lead.

Sanchez struck out a career-best 10 in 7 1/3 innings but the Phillies have still lost five of seven.

“We’ll bounce back,” manager Rob Thomson said. “This group has been resilient all year.”

Strider (17-5) took it from there and won for the fifth time in six starts, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings. Strider struck out nine to boost his MLB-best total to 259. He also gave the bullpen some needed rest after a rough first three games in Philly that included Raisel Iglesias surrendering tying homers in the ninth inning in two of them.

That the Braves had the mettle to rebound and win on the road from the crushing blows is just one more reason why they just might be the team to beat in the postseason.

“Let’s get ready for October,” Strider said.

 

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