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Braves head to Philly, aim to seize control of NLDS

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies were in control for the first 14 innings of their National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.

The final four innings of Game 2 were so calamitous for the Phillies that the series’ momentum swung entirely to Atlanta.

Relying on home-field advantage, the Phillies will prepare a response on Wednesday when they host the Braves for Game 3 with the series tied at one game apiece.

Philadelphia squandered a 4-0 lead Monday night, as Travis d’Arnaud and Austin Riley hit home runs to put Atlanta ahead and Riley helped turn a game-ending double play to preserve a 5-4 Braves win.

“As I’ve said many times, this is a tough team, resilient team,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said Tuesday. “Day off helps to clear your mind, but I expect nothing less than these guys coming in here tomorrow and getting after it.”

With one out in the ninth, Atlanta’s Michael Harris II caught Nick Castellanos’ deep fly ball to the right-center-field wall. Bryce Harper, who had started on first, was about 20 feet past second as Harris threw to the infield but missed the cutoff man.

Riley came over from third to back up the play and threw to first to beat Harper, finishing an 8-5-3 double play.

“I mean, he’s as good as there is in the game,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Riley. “You know, and I’m biased. I get to see him every day. And been through so much with that kid that obviously I’m going to toot that horn every chance I get because I believe in him.”

The Braves’ ballpark shook in celebration, but now the series shifts to Philadelphia, where the Phillies are 8-2 in their past four playoff series. That includes a 2-0 mark against the Braves in last year’s NLDS en route to a World Series berth.

“I told everyone this past offseason that Philly was the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in, especially last year in the postseason,” Braves reliever A.J. Minter said. “We know Philly fans. We know them pretty well. And they’re passionate for their team, and so are we. But it’s definitely going to be chaotic. It’s going to be loud, and we just have to be ready for it.”

The d’Arnaud and Riley homers helped Atlanta get on the board after Philadelphia won 3-0 in Game 1. NL MVP favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. is 0-for-5 with two walks and two runs to start the series.

The Phillies, who swept the Miami Marlins in the wild-card round, have been powered this postseason by J.T. Realmuto (5-for-15, two home runs), Bryson Stott (5-for-14, team-high seven RBIs) and Trea Turner (6-for-16, three doubles).

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Braves had not settled on who would start Game 3 opposite Philadelphia ace right-hander Aaron Nola (1-0, 0.00 ERA this postseason). Snitker said the Braves were weighing whether to use one of their traditional starters or an opener out of the bullpen.

Nola, who went 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA in the regular season, scattered three hits in seven scoreless innings of the Phillies’ series-clinching win over the Marlins.

When he faced Atlanta in Game 3 of last year’s NLDS, Nola gave up just one unearned run on five hits over six innings in a winning effort. He is also 15-10 with a 3.40 ERA in 33 career regular-season starts against the Braves.

“Just commanding the ball, like I said, getting ahead and staying ahead and trying to eliminate big innings,” Nola said of his approach against the Braves. “I feel like any one of their guys can hit home runs at any time, and they’re pretty fast on the bases, too.

“So anytime we can try to eliminate the big inning and just to try to get them out early. They’re a team that they can spoil some pitches on you and work good at-bats.”

–Adam Zielonka, Field Level Media

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