Wright wins 20th, Braves beat Phillies to trim NL East deficit
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — As he was going through the postgame handshake line, Kyle Wright received a request from Braves manager Brian Snitker.
“I want him to authenticate my own personal scorecard because I want him to sign it for me,” Snitker said. “To think of where he was a year ago to now is so awesome.”
Wright became the first 20-game winner in the majors this season and Atlanta beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 on Saturday to stop a three-game losing streak.
“I don't know if I realized how cool it was until my teammates and coaches congratulated me real quick afterward,” Wright said. “It's a team stat and I couldn't have done it without them scoring runs and playing defense.”
William Contreras and rookie Michael Harris II each homered and had three hits for the playoff-bound Braves (94-58), who moved within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Mets in the NL East. New York lost 10-4 at Oakland.
The Mets and Braves play three games in Atlanta next weekend.
“We still have to take one foot ahead of the other,” Wright said. “It is like we are in postseason baseball right now. We've clinched our spot, but hopefully, we can continue winning, and hopefully, we can bypass that first round.”
Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning for Philadelphia (83-68), which began the day a half-game ahead of San Diego for the second NL wild card and 2 1/2 games in front of Milwaukee for the final spot.
“We got off to a slow start,” Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson said.
The 26-year-old Wright, who came into the season with two career wins in 21 appearances, went 5 1/3 innings and became the first Braves pitcher to win 20 games since Russ Ortiz won 21 in 2003. Wright is the seventh 20-game winner for the Braves since they moved to Atlanta in 1966, also joining Denny Neagle and four Hall of Famers: John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Phil Niekro, and Tom Glavine.
“The experience that he got last year is the biggest thing that has happened to him,” Snitker said. “He sprung board off the World Series when he won that big game (Game 4, a 3-2 win over Houston) for us and he learned he was pretty good. And he came to spring training a different guy and it's carried him to now. Hopefully, he gets a couple of more.”
Wright (20-5) ran a high pitch count but didn't allow a hit until Rhys Hoskins doubled with one out in the sixth. Harper followed with his 18th homer, ending the shutout bid and chasing Wright.
“I've learned to have confidence and I can keep myself under control better than I did before," Wright said. “I trust myself and I trust the defense. I throw a lot of groundballs and I've learned to trust the defense.”
Philadelphia scored an unearned run in the seventh and had the potential tying run at the plate with two outs when A.J. Minter struck out Hoskins on a 3-2 fastball. Kenley Jansen earned his 37th save with a clean ninth inning.
Atlanta generated its offense early, taking advantage of Bailey Falter's inability to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate. The Braves got six runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against Falter (5-4), handing the left-hander his first loss since July 24.
“Bailey threw some bad pitches that he normally does make,” Thomson said. “I was happy with our bullpen. They kept us in the game and we got the tying run to the plate.”
Contreras hit his 20th homer in the third. Harris added a two-run drive, his 19th, in the fourth. Vaughn Grissom and Travis d'Arnaud both had two hits for Atlanta.
Braves: Rookie RHP Spencer Strider (strained left oblique) was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 21, and will miss the rest of the regular season. His status for the playoffs is uncertain. ... OF Ronald Acuña Jr. (back) sat out for a third straight day. He is day-to-day.
Phillies: OF Nick Castellanos (right oblique strain) will not go out on a minor league rehab assignment and will likely be activated off the IL next week when the Phillies begin a nine-game road trip in Chicago. Castellanos was added to the injured list Sept. 4.
The regular-season finale between the NL East foes is Sunday, with Atlanta sending RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.09 ERA) to the mound against RHP Kyle Gibson (10-7, 4.71).
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