Phillies vs. Braves: Alec Bohm, Kyle Gibson help Phils make the homestand strong

The Phillies’ first homestand from the All-Star break was not a good one.

But it ended with something good.

A much-needed win. A much needed series win. A small dose of momentum en route to a four-game run in Pittsburgh, where a strong performance is imperative.

The Phils closed their six-game home standings with a 7-2 win over the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday afternoon. The recipe for victory included a timely strike, the ability to take advantage of a shaky defense from the Braves, a good start from Kyle Gibson, and a good job from the bullpen.

Swept by the Chicago Cubs to open the homestand, the Phillies finished it 2-4. Wednesday’s win took them to Pittsburgh no worse than half a game behind St. Louis for control of the third and final NL wild spot 51-47 overall.

“Obviously that Cubs series didn’t go the way we planned,” said JT Realmuto. “To get here and win this series is huge.”

The Pirates are 18 games under .500 and about to re-sell as trade deadline. They have lost eight of their last ten games. This is a series that the Phillies need to win. Zack Wheeler kicks it off Thursday night.

“I think we’ll just go in and play our game and make sure we don’t take anyone lightly,” said manager Rob Thomson. “Don’t take anything for granted. You go in, play your game. Just like today, you step up front, put your foot on the pedal and run over people.”

The Phillies enter Pittsburgh with some legit hot bats.

Alec Bohm had a pair of RBI hits on Wednesday, hitting in 12 consecutive games and 21 of his last 22.

Realmuto has also continued a prolific streak that started before the All-Star break. He had a huge two-run single in the Phillies’ five-run fifth Wednesday afternoon.

That five-run fifth came against Braves starter Charlie Morton after the teams played a scoreless ball for 4½ innings. Gibson delivered six innings of two-run ball for the win and Connor Brogdon, Brad Hand and Andrew Bellatti combined in three scoreless innings to end it.

The Phillies’ decisive rally in the bottom of the fifth inning came after Gibson had thrown only four pitches in the top of the inning, forcing Morton to return to the mound with little time to catch his breath between innings. The Phillies capitalized. The uprising included strong contributions from two young players who continue to improve steadily. Bryson Stott opened the frame by drawing a walk. He raced all the way to third base on a pick-off error by Morton and scored on a single to the left by Bohm.

The Braves made a second error in the inning and the Phillies continued to add runs — an RBI single by Odubel Herrera, a sacrifice fly by Kyle Schwarber and Realmuto’s two-run single.

Since June 24, a 22-game period, Bohm hits .420 (34 for 81) with 14 RBI’s.

He just looks like a confident batter.

“I’ve been seeing that for a while,” Thomson said. “He swings the bat with authority.”

Realmuto, meanwhile, is hitting .438 (14 for 32) over his last nine games.

“Slap is a game of confidence and I feel much more confident than I was earlier in the season,” said Realmuto.

He praised his consistent preparation and work hitting coach Kevin Long for the improved confidence. Realmuto feels so good at the record that he didn’t want a rest day on Wednesday. Novice catchers often get a rest when their teams play a day game after a night game.

“This was an important series,” said Realmuto. “I wanted to be there after the Cubs series. It was really important for us to get some momentum.”

Now it’s headed for Pittsburgh with Tuesday’s trading deadline approaching. The Phils are buyers. Baseball Operations President Dave Dombrowski will add something as this team tries to break through a 10-year post-season drought.

“We feel like we can compete with anyone,” Realmuto said. “We believe in Dave.”

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