PHILADELPHIA -- The bottom two teams in the National League East are trending in opposite directions, which was magnified as the Braves finished a sweep of the Phillies with a 2-0 victory on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Julio Teheran and Jake Thompson matched zeros for all but the second inning, when Matt Kemp provided the lone run off Thompson in Atlanta's sixth win in a row and second straight sweep. Conversely, the loss was the Phillies' sixth in a row and closed out a winless homestand that was bookended by shutouts of the home team. Philadelphia didn't score more than four runs in any of the six losses and averaged only 1.8 per game.
"We're striking out too much. We don't have a good two-strike approach," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin after his team struck out 13 times on Sunday. "I keep preaching about plate discipline; we're not showing a lot of plate discipline. It looks like we're behind fastballs and not putting the ball in play with two strikes."
Freddie Freeman added another blast off Michael Mariot in the eighth. Freeman had already doubled earlier to extend his on-base streak to 26 games -- the longest active such streak in the Majors -- and his hitting streak to 11. Ender Inciarte singled in the sixth to move his streak to 15 games. The Braves own the longest active on-base and hitting streaks in the big leagues.
"They're threats every time they go up there, both those guys," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Freeman and Kemp. "You saw today what they can do. They carried us."
With 6 1/2 games separating them in the standings, the Braves and Phillies are now the closest they've been since June 27, less than a week after Atlanta's only other winning streak of six games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Teheran dominates: The Phillies couldn't muster a hit off Teheran until a Maikel Franco single to lead off the fourth, and they weren't able to capitalize on other base hits later in the game. Teheran loaded the bases in each of his final two innings, but he escaped unscathed each time. He exited after six innings and 109 pitches without allowing a run, turning in his best effort since returning from the disabled list five starts ago. Teheran has now tossed 13 innings over his last two starts, while allowing just two runs and striking out 15.
"Obviously he's healthy. His velocity's back up. He's back in the swing, so to speak," Snitker said. "The first couple [starts after] he came back, well he'd been off a while, getting back into that routine and ... what you do between starts were kind of out of whack. Right now, he's back where he needs to be."
"After that last month and a half where I had a little bit of sickness and was on the DL, I've got everything together," Teheran added. "Everything is working like it was working at the beginning of the year. Whenever I have everything, everything goes good." More >
Leavin' them loaded: The Phillies and Braves combined to load the bases in four consecutive half innings, and neither team scored a run. Eleven runners were stranded in the process. Franco grounded out to third base in the bottom of the fifth. Nick Markakis grounded into a double play to end the top of the sixth. Peter Bourjos roped a line drive to right field, but it was right at Markakis. Adonis Garcia then grounded out to third to leave three men on in the seventh inning, the last for Thompson.
After taking a moment to think, Snitker couldn't recall a time where he saw teams load the bases and proceed to not score for four consecutive half-innings.
"I live inning to inning," Snitker said. "Once the inning's over, I'm turning the page and thinking about the next one. In the seventh, I was trying to figure out who to pitch in the eighth. … I guess any team could have blown this thing wide open, but their starter did a really good job. He's pretty good at getting out of trouble, too."
Kemp keeps hitting: Only the Rockies and Red Sox have scored more runs than the Braves since Kemp's first game in an Atlanta uniform on Aug. 2. Although the two runs Sunday won't do wonders to that stat, of course it was Kemp who provided one of them. His second-inning home run was his fifth as a Brave. Kemp homered in two of the three games in Philadelphia, and he has now driven in 24 runs in the 31 games he's started for the Braves.
Thompson goes seven strong: Thompson's last two starts have been much more like what the Phillies envisioned when they called up the 22-year-old last month. Thompson allowed just one run in seven frames, going that distance for his second start in a row. He's lowered his ERA from 9.78 to 6.48 in his past two starts.
"After his first four outings with us, we weren't sure what we were seeing," Mackanin said. "His last two outings, especially today, he pitched extremely well. That was great to see." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sunday's game came close to breaking a Major League record. At 3 hours and 13 minutes, the Phillies and Braves came 20 minutes short of playing the longest nine-inning, 2-0 game in MLB history. The longest remains the Yankees' 2-0 win over the Twins on July 12, 2013, checking in at 3 hours and 33 minutes.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
It took only 52 seconds to overturn what was initially called a diving catch by Aaron Altherr on a fly ball into shallow center by Jace Peterson in the seventh inning. It was an impressive defensive effort regardless, but replay clearly showed the ball bounce into Altherr's outstretched glove.
The Phillies unsuccessfully challenged a call later in the seventh, when Franco tried to tag out Peterson to start a double play. Peterson avoided the tag and was called safe at third, which was confirmed by replay, but Franco still threw out pinch-hitter A.J. Pierzynski at first to get an out on the play.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Ryan Weber (1-0, 5.24 ERA) will become the 15th man to start a game for the Braves this season when they open up a three-game set at Nationals Park on Monday at 4:05 ET. He's made 12 appearances out of Atlanta's bullpen and started five times at Triple-A. The Braves have dropped 11 of 13 games this season to the Nats.
Phillies: The Phillies open at three-game series in Miami on Monday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Jerad Eickhoff will take the mound, making his 28th start of the year. Eickhoff (9-13, 3.90 ERA) enters Monday with the team lead in innings pitched at 161 2/3.