- Associated Press - Monday, July 4, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - For the Philadelphia Phillies, it’s hittin’ season.

Jerad Eickhoff pitched neatly into the eighth inning, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco hit two-run homers and the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 8-2 on Monday.

After struggling offensively much of the year, the Phillies have swung the bats better than any team in baseball the past couple weeks. This is the time of the year former manager Charlie Manuel likes to call “hittin’ season.”

The Phillies have double-digit hits in 10 of the last 13 games and lead the majors with a .321 batting average during that stretch. Their first eight hits against Joel De La Cruz (0-2) went for extra bases.

“I can’t complain about the hitting anymore,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “The hitting continued and it’s great to see. When you see a pitcher not pitching well, you have to take advantage of it.”

Eickhoff (6-9) gave up two runs and five hits, striking out eight in 7 2/3 innings to win for the fourth time in five decisions.

“I feel good mechanically and mentally,” Eickhoff said. “Just try not to change anything.”

After sweeping three games in Arizona and taking two of three from the defending World Series champion Royals, the Phillies didn’t let up against the worst team in the NL.

They jumped on De La Cruz in the second inning. Six extra-base hits led to a season-high seven runs in the inning.

Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph hit doubles. Cesar Hernandez ripped an RBI triple. Herrera hit one out to deep right-center for his 10th homer. After Peter Bourjos hit a double, Franco hit his 15th homer to left-center to make it 7-1.

“I think confidence breeds success,” Rupp said. “Our confidence is through the roof.”

Erick Aybar lined a solo shot out to right for a 1-0 lead in the first. Aybar snapped a streak of 217 at-bats without a homer. He hadn’t gone deep since Oct. 3, 2015 for the Angels against the Rangers.

De La Cruz allowed seven runs - four earned - and nine hits in six innings in his second career start.

“We had a tough inning. He had a tough inning,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He got the ball up a lot. Some balls got hit hard. But to his credit, he got us through six innings.”

Eickhoff, who had the longest outing of his career, hasn’t given up more than three runs in seven straight starts. He’s lowered his ERA from 4.07 to 3.30 in that span.

“He’s a bulldog,” Mackanin said. “He goes out there to win and works extremely hard.”

STANDINGS

The Phillies (38-46) have won six of seven. The Braves (28-55) have lost six of eight.

STREAKING

Bourjos extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games. He has raised his average from .278 from .217. … Rupp has a 10-game hitting streak. … Joseph snapped an 0-for-18 slump with his double. … Hernandez is 20 for 40 since June 23, raising his average from .248 to .286.

GOOD COMPANY

Eickhoff has tossed 18 quality starts in his first 25 starts in the majors to tie Hall of Famer Robin Roberts and right-hander Art Mahaffey for most through the first 25 starts for the Phillies since 1913. The last pitchers with as many quality starts in their first 25 career games were Jacob deGrom (20) and Masahiro Tanaka (19).

WE WANT A HIT

A Phillies fan seated in the second deck behind home plate chanted “We want a hit” incessantly during the second inning. The offense responded with three doubles, a triple and two homers.

UP NEXT

RHP Mike Foltynewicz (2-2, 3.72) starts for the Braves while RHP Zach Elfin (0-2, 5.75) goes for the Phillies.

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