BRAVES 7 PHILLIES 4
By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA — Christian Bethancourt paid close attention to the Braves’ hitting woes, even when he was with Triple-A Gwinnett.
One day after his recall from the minors, the rookie catcher played a big role in helping the Braves break out of their slump.
Bethancourt had three hits in his return to the major leagues, including a fifth-inning single that drove in the go-ahead run in Atlanta’s 7-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
“When you’re at Triple-A, you’re still watching the big guys playing,” Bethancourt said. “You follow the numbers, and you’re watching every single game. You know the next day, the next hour, you’re probably with the big league team and you have to be aware of what’s going on.”
B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer in a three-run second as the Braves ended a 25-inning scoreless streak.
“That was a big step,” Bethancourt said. “We were able to score a lot of runs after two shutouts in a row. That’s a good step for the team.”
Atlanta began the day 1½ games behind Milwaukee for the NL’s second wild card.
Ervin Santana (14-7) won despite allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings. Craig Kimbrel pitched around a leadoff walk to Cesar Hernandez in the ninth for his major league-leading 42nd save in 46 chances.
Grady Sizemore hit a two-run homer in the third that tied the score 3-3, and Ben Revere had three hits for his fourth straight multihit game.
Atlanta, shut out in three of its previous four games, fell behind on Chase Utley’s first-inning sacrifice fly but took a 3-1 lead in the second behind Upton’s 10th homer and first since Aug. 8. The Braves had scored one run in their previous 36 innings. All three runs were unearned because of an error by Utley, who allowed Ryan Doumit’s leadoff grounder to bounce off his glove for an error.
Bethancourt, recalled following a six-week demotion, drove in the Braves’ first run with an infield single in the second and put Atlanta ahead 5-4 with an RBI single in the fifth.
Bethancourt’s status as a top prospect is based largely on his work behind the plate, but he showed offensive potential by hitting .283 with eight homers and 48 RBIs at Gwinnett.
“There’s no question in my mind that defensively this kid is ready to play in the major leagues,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Offensively, he’s going to hit and like every young player. When they see enough of him, he’s going to have to make some adjustments.”
Freddie Freeman led off the fifth with a double off Mario Hollands (2-2). Freeman initially was ruled out stretching at second on left fielder Domonic Brown’s throw to Utley, but Jordan Baker’s call was reversed on video review. Bethancourt then singled against Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban who signed last year and who was making his major league debut.
Phillies starter David Buchanan, from Peachtree City, Georgia, and Georgia State, gave up four runs – one earned – three hits and four walks in his first game at Atlanta.
Play of the day
Sizemore made the defensive play of the game by racing toward the right-field foul line for a diving catch of pinch-hitter Gattis’ fly ball in the eighth.
Philadelphia: Holland left with what was announced as left elbow soreness. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Holland had tightness in his left forearm and may return to Philadelphia to have the arm examined.
Atlanta: LF Justin Upton was held out with a bruised left upper arm sustained when hit by a pitch Tuesday. He had treatment and took some swings before the game and the injury is not believed to be serious.
Philadelphia: The Phillies are off Thursday before RHP Jerome Williams starts Friday night’s series opener at Washington. The Phillies swept three games from the Nationals in Philadelphia last week.
Atlanta: The Braves also are off Thursday. RHP Aaron Harang faces RHP Jarred Cosart on Friday night at Miami. Cosart and the Marlins shut out Harang and the Braves 4-0 Saturday.