Craig Kimbrel became the eighth pitcher in major league history to earn 400 saves, Brandon Marsh hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth inning and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Friday night.
Making his 730th career appearance, the 34-year-old Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth to get his sixth save in six chances this season. Of the seven previous relievers to reach 400 saves, only Mariano Rivera (697 games), Trevor Hoffman (706) and Kenley Jansen (778) hit the threshold in under 800 appearances.
Kimbrel, the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year, played his first five seasons in Atlanta, was a four-time All-Star with the Braves and still holds the franchise record with 186 saves. This is his first season with Philadelphia. Over his last 14 games since April 16, Kimbrel has faced 50 batters and has 26 strikeouts in 13 innings, but the hard-throwing right-hander began the game with a 6.00 ERA.
Facing reliever Joe Jiménez (0-1) with the bases loaded in the sixth, Marsh made it 4-3 with a single to left field that scored Nick Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies scored twice in the seventh off Lucas Luetge on Trea Turner’s RBI double and Bryce Harper’s sacrifice fly.
The Braves led 3-2 in the fifth when Michael Harris II snapped a 1-for-28 slump with a two-run homer. Beginning the game hitting .165, Harris drove an 88 mph splitter from starter Taijuan Walker (4-2) for an opposite-field shot to left that made it 3-2. It was the second home run for Harris, last season’s NL Rookie of the Year.
The NL-leading Braves dropped to 31-20. Philadelphia, stuck in fourth place in the NL East after advancing to the World Series last year, is 24-27. The Phillies are seven games back of Atlanta in the division standings.
After failing to capitalize in the first two innings with a runner in scoring position, the Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the third when Bryson Stott and Turner walked and Castellanos tripled off the wall in right-center.
Atlanta trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the fourth. Travis d’Arnaud doubled, advanced to third on Marcell Ozuna’s single and scored on Eddie Rosario’s sacrifice fly.
Walker gave up 10 hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings to win for the first time in four starts. He began the game 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in seven career starts against Atlanta.
Jared Shuster, the Braves’ top prospect according to MLB.com, allowed three hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings. It was his fifth career start.
Ozuna led off the second with a single and advanced to third on Rosario’s double but was tagged out for a double play after getting caught in a rundown when first baseman Alec Bohm threw to third baseman Josh Harrison. Ozuna compensated for the mistake in the eighth, homering off Matt Strahm to cut the lead to 6-4. It was the 11th time he’s gone deep this year. He finished 3 for 4 after beginning the night with a 1.167 OPS this month, third-highest in the majors.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said Harper continues to throw from 90 feet and needs to reach 120 before he can return to right field. Thomson added that Harper, a two-time NL MVP who underwent Tommy John surgery on Nov. 23, 2022, likely won’t play in the field until after the All-Star break.
Braves RHP Charlie Morton (5-4, 3.61 ERA) will face RHP Zack Wheeler (3-4, 4.11) as the teams play the third game of a four-game series in a 4:10 p.m. start Saturday.
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