Final: Braves 7, Phillies 6 ❖ Attendance: 22,348
ATLANTA — Philadelphia Phillies (70-87) starter RHP Jerad Eickhoff was cruising through four innings in the series opener against the National League-worst Atlanta Braves (64-92) and RHP Julio Teheran Tuesday evening at Turner Field.
Through four innings, the right-hander had allowed just one runner to reach with five strikeouts recorded: a solo home run to opposing first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Rain stopped game action twice in the series opener, the first a near 30-minute delay prior to the start of the contest and the second a one-hour, 53-minute delay coming after the completion of the bottom of the fourth inning.
Eickhoff's outing was cut short, putting the game into the hands of the Phillies bullpen which has a MLB-worst 8.03 ERA in the month of September. Ultimately, a 6-1 lead was erased resulting in the team's 87th loss of the season and their fifth straight loss the Braves.
Left fielder Roman Quinn left Tuesday's game early with a strained left oblique. He was 3-4 with a double, two runs scored and stolen base prior to his sixth-inning departure. He likely finishes 2016 with a .263/.373/.333 slash with four doubles, six RBIs and five stolen bases over 15 games.
WP: Mauricio Cabrera (4-1, 2.84 ERA) ❖ LP: David Hernandez (3-4, 3.84 ERA) ❖ SV: Jim Johnson (18)
On the first pitch against Teheran, Howard went yard to right field, securing his 24th home run of the season and the 15th grand slam of his career, a Phillies franchise high. He is now tied with ex-Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez for the most grand slams in the majors since his rookie season in 2004, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The grand slam also moved Howard tied with outfielder Albert Belle for 69th place on the all-time home runs list (381) and secured his first season with 24 or more home runs since 2011 (33).
Two more insurance runs were added by the Phillies just an inning later. After Quinn hit a one-out double to left, he stole third and went on to score via throwing error by catcher Tyler Flowers. Franco and Howard both singled later on to set up a RBI double to right by catcher Cameron Rupp. This was Rupp's first of two doubles on the night as well as his 53rd RBI of the season.
Eickhoff had retired his first 11 batters faced — four via strikeout — before allowing a two-out solo home run to Freeman iin the bottom of the fourth, his 33rd blast and 88th RBI of 2016. The right-hander went on to strike out right fielder Nick Markakis for the final out of the inning and of his start due to a rain delay.
The Braves pulled within one run of the Phillies, 6-5, with a four-run output a few hours later in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on first and second against reliever Luis Garcia, Markakis hit a RBI single to left followed by a three-run home run off the bat of Flowers.
Two frames later against southpaw Joely Rodriguez and RHP David Hernandez, the lead the Phillies held for the entire game was erased as left fielder Mallex Smith and pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio hit RBI singles, the latter what would prove to be the game-winning hit for Atlanta.
Hernandez was credited with his second blown save of the season and his fourth losing decision.
The Phillies were 3-10 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base. The Braves, on the other hand were 4-9 with just six baserunners stranded.
Southpaw Adam Morgan will go up against RHP Mike Foltynewicz, making his first start since suffering a bruised left calf on a comebacker on Sept. 12. (Time: 7:10 p.m.; TV: CSN; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP).