PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ronald Acuña singled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and the Braves stayed close in the NL East race, outlasting the Phillies 8-7 Sunday in a game that took over six hours to complete because of a two-hour rain delay.
“Our goal is to win the World Series again,” Acuña said. “It was a big win and hopefully, we’ll get the next three ”
The Braves split the four-game series and remained 1 1/2 games behind the division-leading New York Mets. They’ll play three games next weekend in Atlanta, with the Mets needing one win to secure the tiebreaker advantage of head-to-head wins.
“These guys put a lot into these things and they expend a lot of energy to win games on a nightly basis,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was a big win to try and keep pace in this whole thing. It is unbelievable with the big hits and everything. Especially against the Phillies, who are a really good team.”
Kyle Schwarber extended his National League-leading home run total to 42 with a pair of solo drives while scoring three times for the Phillies. Philadelphia holds a 1 1/2-game lead over the Brewers for the third NL wild-card spot and a head-to-head tiebreaker over Milwaukee based on a 4-3 season series advantage.
All 10 of Philadelphia’s games are on the road while all nine of the Brewers’ remaining games are on the road.
“We are going to do a good job of taking out the exceeded pressure,” Schwarber said. “We have to enjoy this thing and its going to be a fun last road trip. We have to be prepared and locked in and take the results at the end of the day, whether its a win or a loss.”
Acuña hadn’t played since feeling back tightness before Thursday night’s series opener. He pinch-hit for Vaughn Grissom in the eighth, was issued an intentional walk and remained in the game.
“I looked down there and he had his cleats on,” Snitker said. “I asked George (Poulos, Atlanta’s athletic trainer) if he was good and he said he was good. Especially a game like this when its early, it takes them a while to make sure. They treated him up and they said he was good to go for the whole thing- play the outfield and such. It was a good sign.”
In the 11th, he hit an RBI single off Andrew Bellatti (4-4) for a 7-6 lead, and later scored on a two-out single by Michael Harris II.
“Running around the bases, I didn’t feel a thing,” Acuna said. “I felt really good.”
Jackson Stephens (3-2) pitched the last two innings, giving up an RBI single to J.T. Realmuto in the 11th.
Schwarber’s two homers came off of Braves starter Charlie Morton – a leadoff homer in the first that ticked the outside of the foul pole in right field and a liner that barely cleared the wall in left-center in the third for a 4-3 lead.
Dansby Swanson hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Phillies starter Kyle Gibson for a 5-4 lead. Swanson had three hits and three RBIs.
With the rain pouring down across Citizens Bank Park in the fifth, both Bryce Harper and Alec Bohm lifted sacrifice flies for a 6-5 lead, just before the tarp came out for 2 hours, 9 minutes.
The score remained that way until the eighth when Phillies reliever David Robertson uncorked a two-out, bases-loaded wild pitch that scored William Contreras with the tying run.
The Phillies drew 32,090 for their final home game of the season, leaving their season total at 2,276,736 over 80 home dates. In 2019, the last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Phils drew 2,727,421 fans over 81 dates —- over 450,000 more.
On average, the Phillies drew 28,459 fans per game. That was down more than 5,000 fans a game from from the 33,671 average in 2019, the first year after the club signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year free-agent contract.
Phillies: Placed LHP Brad Hand on the 15-day injured list with left elbow tendinitis retroactive to Sept. 22. In his place, RHP Chris Devenski was selected from Triple A Lehigh Valley and INF Johan Camargo was designated for assignment.
Braves: After visiting the White House on Monday morning to celebrate their 2021 World Series title, the Braves will start a three-game series at the Nationals on Monday evening. Atlanta has not announced its Monday starter.
Phillies: After an off-day Monday, the Phillies begin a 10-game road trip that will conclude the regular season in Chicago. RHP Zack Wheeler (11-7, 2.98 ERA) will start against the Cubs on Tuesday.