Braves’ rough run extended as Phillies win in 10 innings

AP photo by Brynn Anderson / Philadelphia Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs tags out Atlanta Braves pinch-runner Luke Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning of Thursday's game at Truist Park. Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos caught a fly ball deep in foul territory and made an impressive throw for the inning-ending out when Williams tagged up and tried to score the winning run.

ATLANTA — Nick Castellanos' teammates didn't want him to catch it. Neither did the team's manager. Even the Philadelphia Phillies right fielder thought about dropping the fly ball as it sailed toward him in foul territory at Truist Park.

Then a voice told him to make the catch.

Good thing he listened.

After hitting two home runs, Castellanos saved the game with a brilliant throw as Philadelphia beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5 in 10 innings Wednesday, handing the National League East Division champions their fifth loss in six games.

The Braves rallied from a four-run deficit and had a chance to walk off with the win in the ninth after pinch-runner Luke Williams stole second and third.

Orlando Arcia hit a fly ball down the right-field line that appeared deep enough to bring home the tagging Williams. Castellanos made the catch in foul territory, spun completely around and threw home in time for Garrett Stubbs to tag the runner on the right shoulder.

"I thought I should drop it," Castellanos said. "Then, at the last minute, a voice popped in my head and said, 'Catch it and throw him out.'"

Phillies manager Rob Thomson was certainly pulling for Castellanos to let the ball hit the ground. He figured there was little chance to throw out Williams from roughly 280 feet away, especially when Castellanos wasn't able to make the catch with his momentum going toward home plate.

"He made a heck of a play," Thomson said. "We were all sitting there in the dugout murmuring, 'Drop it, drop it, drop it.'"

In the extra inning, Bryson Stott came through after an intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs, lining an opposite-field double down the third-base line that brought home two runs off A.J. Minter (3-6).

Craig Kimbrel (8-6) was the winning pitcher and Matt Strahm earned his second save of the year, limiting the Braves in the bottom of the 10th to Ozzie Albies' sacrifice fly.

Castellanos staked the Phillies to a 4-0 lead with a pair of homers off Bryce Elder, but the Braves tied it in the eighth with Austin Riley's RBI single and Marcell Ozuna's towering drive that ricocheted off the brick wall in right field for an RBI double.

The Phillies strengthened their hold on the NL wild-card lead with 10 games remaining, coming into the day with a 3 1/2-game buffer for a postseason spot. They also won two of three in their final regular-season series against the Braves, a division rival they may see again in the playoffs.

A year ago, Philadelphia upset the Braves in an NL Division Series on a surprising run to the World Series.

"We want to play some tight baseball," Castellanos said, "because October is getting pretty close."

The Phillies kept Ronald Acuña Jr. in the ballpark after the Atlanta right fielder went deep twice the previous night, leaving the Braves slugger/speedster one home run shy of becoming the first player in Major League Baseball history with at least 40 homers and 60 stolen bases in a season.

Acuña went 1-for-5 with a run scored, remaining at 39 homers and 67 stolen bases.

Castellanos led off the second inning with a 432-foot drive to center and followed in the fourth with a two-run shot off Elder.

It was the fourth multihomer game of the season and 13th of his career for Castellanos, who has 27 homers this year.

Phillies starter Aaron Nola retired the first nine Atlanta hitters before Acuña lined a single to start the fourth. Nola went six innings, surrendering two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts.

Elder struggled with his control in another rough outing for a Braves starting pitcher. He walked five batters, gave up three hits and didn't strike out anyone in 3 2/3 innings.

"It wasn't any good, obviously," Elder said. "I thought it was pretty worthless, actually."

Over the past 16 games, Atlanta's rotation is 4-6 with a 6.87 ERA, allowing 86 hits and 59 walks in 77 1/3 innings.

As for the relievers, Jesse Chavez made his first appearance for the Braves in more than three months.

The 40-year-old right-hander took over for Elder in the fourth and needed just 25 pitches to work 2 1/3 scoreless innings, giving a big boost to an Atlanta bullpen that also has struggled in recent weeks.

Chavez went on the disabled list after being struck in the left leg by a comebacker from the Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera on June 14. Initially, the injury wasn't thought to be serious, but when Chavez was slow to recover, further tests revealed a microfracture.

With Thursday's outing, he lowered his ERA to 1.44 in 31 1/3 innings pitched this season.

On the injury front, Braves right-handers Nick Anderson (shoulder strain) and Collin McHugh (shoulder inflammation) were both rocked in their first rehab appearances for Triple-A Gwinnett, hurting their hopes of being on the postseason roster. Anderson gave up three hits, a walk and two earned runs while retiring only one hitter. McHugh also lasted just 1/3 of an inning and was charged with four runs on two hits and two walks.

Atlanta left-hander Max Fried (7-1, 2.64 ERA), whose turn in the rotation was pushed back a day in hopes of avoiding a finger blister, is scheduled to start Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series against the host Washington Nationals, who will counter with right-hander Jake Irvin (3-6, 4.34).