Riley, d'Arnaud lift Braves over Phillies in rematch of 2022 playoffs
ATLANTA (AP) — Austin Riley hit a mammoth homer.
Then another, to almost the same spot.
“I don't think I've ever hit one that far in my life," teammate Travis d'Arnaud marveled. “He did it twice.”
Riley's two long homers and d'Arnaud's pinch-hit, two-run single in the eighth inning carried the Atlanta Braves to an 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.
D'Arnaud, sent up for slumping Michael Harris II with the bases loaded, lined a one-out single to left field off Gregory Soto (1-4) to break a 5-all tie. Matt Olson added a sacrifice fly.
In the first meeting between the NL East rivals since the Phillies' upset victory in the 2022 divisional round, both teams displayed plenty of power to open a four-game series.
No one more than Riley, who had just two homers in May but matched that in one prodigious night of slugging. He extended his hitting streak to eight games, appearing to be over a sluggish start to the season.
A two-run shot in the first measured 459 feet. A solo drive in the fifth went an estimated 458 feet to essentially the same spot, way up in the seats in left-center for the fifth multi-homer game of his career.
Riley became just the third player to hit two 455-foot homers in a game since Statcast started tallying distances in 2015, joining Willson Contreras (2019) and Trevor Story (2018).
“That was like a couple of birdies back-to-back,” Riley said with a grin. “It feels good.”
Bryce Harper hit a massive homer for the Phillies, launching a 445-footer off Dylan Dodd that sailed past the Chop House restaurant in right field. It was Harper’s 40th career homer against the Braves.
Alec Bohm added a two-run shot for the Phillies. Marcell Ozuna went deep for the Braves, who became the first team in nearly four years to hit three homers off Aaron Nola.
Ozuna kept up his strong play since a dismal start to the season led many to speculate the Braves would eat the rest of his $65 million contract. In addition to his 10th homer, he also had a huge hit in the eighth with a ground-rule double.
Ozuna was hitting .085 (5 of 59) at the end of April. He's 23 of 67 (.343) in May, raising his average to .222.
Harper went small ball to spark a rally that tied the game at 5 in the seventh. With two outs, he dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line for a single, and wound up scoring on Kyle Schwarber's double into the right-field corner off A.J. Minter.
Nick Castellanos also came home and was initially called safe on a close play at the plate. But a Braves challenge led to the call being overturned; the replay showed Castellanos' lead foot on the slide missed the plate before he was tagged by Sean Murphy on the opposite knee.
Dodd, a rookie called up from Triple-A to make his fourth start of the season in Atlanta's patched-up rotation, gave up four runs in five innings.
Nick Anderson (2-0) earned the win with a perfect eighth, and Raisel Iglesias picked up his fourth save in five chances.
Nola lasted six innings, giving up five earned runs to match his season high. It was the first time he's given up three homers in a game since July 18, 2019, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While Riley's homers were the star attraction, he also made a crucial defensive play in the third.
With one out and the bases loaded, Bohm grounded one to the third baseman. He scooped it up, stepped on the bag and threw out Castellanos at the plate — the first of two times, it turned out, that the Phillies player would get nailed going home.
“The defense saved my butt tonight, especially in the third inning,” Dodd said. “That was awesome.”
Big Boi threw out the ceremonial first pitch on a night when the Braves honored Atlanta hip-hop duo Outkast.
Taking the mound wearing a vintage No. 44 Hank Aaron jersey, Big Boi bounced his toss to the plate, the ball skipping by the bat boy sent out to handle the catching duties.
The crowd of 43,216 — the third-largest turnout in Truist Park history — received Outkast bobbleheads. There was no sign of the other member of the group, André 3000; the pair hasn't performed together since a 2014 reunion tour.
Phillies: LHP José Alvarado (elbow inflammation) threw a bullpen Wednesday, according to manager Rob Thomson, and is scheduled for another one Saturday in Atlanta. “If that goes well, he'll probably throw some batting practice in New York,” Thomson said, referring to a series that begins next Tuesday against the Mets. ... C Rafael Marchan (fractured right wrist) could begin a rehab assignment Sunday, while 1B Darick Hall (right thumb surgery) is on course to start his rehab assignment early next week.
Braves: RHP Michael Tonkin went on the 15-day injured list with a strained neck, clearing a spot on the roster for Dodd.
The Braves will start another rookie in the second game of the series. LHP Jared Shuster (1-2, 5.49 ERA) is set to face Phillies RHP Taijuan Walker (3-2, 5.79).
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