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“He’s right on everything,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It seems like he just misses a pitch when he doesn’t hit it out. It’s been a great formula.”
With the early barrage against Lively, the Braves recorded six straight hits to open a game for the first time since they did so in an Opening Day victory over the Giants on April 26, 1995. That was the same day Chipper Jones made his first career start at third base.
“I was just trying to find my fastball early in the game,” said Lively, who did not throw a breaking ball until the fourth batter of the game. “Fifteen pitches too late.”
Though they have struggled since splitting their first 90 games, the Braves now have 69 wins, which exceeds last year’s win total. They have won three straight against the Phillies, who claimed victory in 12 of the first 14 games of this season series.
Sean Newcomb benefited from the early lead and held the Phillies hitless until Cesar Hernandez doubled and scored on Nick Williams‘ sacrifice fly in the fourth. Williams added a sixth-inning RBI single that chased Newcomb, who scattered four hits over 5 1/3 innings. The rookie southpaw has permitted three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his past 11 starts.
“I was able to do some good work with my fastball, and that was definitely encouraging,” said Newcomb, who threw his four-seam fastball 73 percent of the time, the highest percentage of his young career.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Starting with a bang: Ender Inciarte‘s leadoff double puts him eight hits away from recording the seventh 200-hit season in Atlanta Braves history. He also started the string of six consecutive hits allowed by Lively, who had given up six hits or fewer in seven of his past eight starts. Freddie Freeman doubled and Nick Markakis drove in a pair before Suzuki homered.
“Hitting is contagious,” Suzuki said. “When you’re on deck seeing guys barrel up balls, you want to get up there and start hitting, too. It gets you all riled up and ready to go.”
Rally killer: After Williams’ sixth-inning single brought the Phillies within four runs and led Dan Winkler to enter with two on and one out, Rhys Hoskins flew out to deep right field. Winkler then preserved Newcomb’s effort and escaped any further damage by getting Aaron Altherr to strike out swinging.
Winkler has limited opponents to a .081 (3-for-37) batting average since joining Atlanta’s bullpen in August.
“I would have said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to play that many years.'” — Suzuki, when asked what he’d have said if somebody told him he was going to hit 18 home runs
“That first inning, he didn’t hit his spots and he didn’t change speeds very much. He got hurt. We were out of the game after that first inning.” — Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, on Lively
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The six players to record consecutive hits off Terry Mulholland (a former Brave and Phillie) to open the 1995 Opening Day game were Marquis Grissom, Jeff Blauser, Jones, Fred McGriff, David Justice and Javy Lopez. Grissom’s leadoff double accounted for the only extra-base hit during that span.
A replay reversal erased what would have been an infield single for Inciarte as he inches closer to a 200-hit season. Freddy Galvis ranged up the middle and made a running throw to first. The review lasted just 24 seconds.
Phillies: Phillies right-hander Henderson Alvarez (0-1, 7.20 ERA) faces the Braves in the second game of a three-game series at 7:10 p.m. ET on Saturday at SunTrust Park. It will be Alvarez’s second start with the Phillies. He made his debut on Sunday against the A’s as the Phillies move to a six-man rotation the rest of the season, in an effort to protect the team’s young arms.
Braves: Julio Teheran will make his final home start of the season when this series resumes on Saturday. Teheran has posted a 6.23 ERA in 16 starts at SunTrust, but he has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his past three starts in Atlanta.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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