Coming into tonight's weekend series opener, the Braves and the Phillies may have seemed evenly matched on offense, but Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola had outpitched Matt Wisler in the early going. However, the Braves found a way to flip the script on Nola and the Phillies, as they bashed three two-run homers to give themselves a comfortable victory. Five runs came off of Nola, saddling him with his second-worst start of the season; meanwhile, Matt Wisler held the Phillies to just a single run to grab his second victory of the season, and the Braves' 11th victory overall.
An eventful first inning spelled an inauspicious contest for the Braves, even though it didn't end that way. The first two batters reached for Atlanta to begin the game, but after a Freddie Freeman groundout, Nick Markakis hit into a double play to erase the scoring threat. The Phillies got their first and only run in the bottom of the frame, as Ryan Howard hit a hard grounder to drive in a run after nascent Braves/Matt Wisler nemesis Maikel Franco doubled to put runners on second and third with one out.
Freddie Freeman gave the Braves the lead in the third with a two-run shot to right field. Mallex Smith scored on the play; Smith had previously reached first base on a bunt single. Notably, Smith was initially called out before an Atlanta challenge overturned the call; it was Atlanta's first successful challenge of 2016.
Nola and Wisler then traded zeroes until the top of the seventh, where the wheels came off a bit for the Phillies. Smith once again led off a fruitful inning by putting it on the ground time, this time to Franco, who booted it and then fired an ill-advised strike that missed Howard at first, giving Smith a de-facto leadoff double. Two batters later, Gordon Beckham looped one over a drawn-in infield to give the Braves run number three, and Nick Markakis drove a ball to left center for his first homer of the year, giving Atlanta a 5-1 advantage.
In the ninth, Freddie Freeman connected for another two-run shot, this time off of one-time Braves prospect Brett Oberholtzer (who is a lefty, to boot) to cap the scoring at 7-1. Freeman's eight homers are now 44 percent of the team's total (he had 40 percent coming into the game).
Nola suffered an unfortunate start, yielding five of the seven runs. While only two of runs were earned (because Franco's error let Smith reach, and the Markakis homer came with two outs), he did allow two homers, and his 6/2 K/BB ratio was far worse than he's posted to date. You don't generally expect the Braves to saddle opposing pitchers with poor starts, but that's exactly what happened here.
On the flip side, Matt Wisler flashed some strong peripherals in this one, striking out seven Phillies while only walking two. (For those interested in such things, that's a 1.90 FIP and 3.79 xFIP for the game, much better than his 3.98 and 4.88 marks for those metrics, respectively, coming into the game.) It was his fourth consecutive strong start, and he probably could've gone another batter or two, as he was pulled after just 95 pitches.
Hunter Cervenka, Bud Norris, and Alexi Ogando closed out the breezy win for the Braves.