- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Aaron Nola wasn’t as sharp as he had been lately. The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander didn’t get help from his defense, either.

Nola gave up a pair of home runs and Maikel Franco made two errors at third base as Philadelphia lost to the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Friday night.

Nola (3-3) gave up five runs - two earned - and seven hits in seven innings. He entered 3-0 with a 1.32 ERA in his last five starts, all of which the Phillies won.

“I made a couple of mistakes,” Nola said.

Freddie Freeman homered twice and drove in four runs, and Nick Markakis also hit a home run to lead Atlanta.

The Braves entered last in the majors by a wide margin with just 15 homers, but they have gone deep nine times in their last five games.

“They all want to do good, and everybody presses and wants to be the guy to get you off the mat,” Atlanta interim manager Brian Snitker said. “You get going like that and guys start swinging the bat and relaxing and doing what they’re capable of doing.”

The Braves hit three homers in a game for the first time this season. Entering Friday, Philadelphia’s 31 homers were second from the bottom in the big leagues.

“There are guys in there capable of what we did tonight,” Snitker said. “We just keep grinding and things will start falling our way, too.”

Freeman put the Braves ahead 2-1 in the third with a two-run shot off Nola.

“The balls to Freddie leaked over the plate a little bit too much,” Nola said.

Freeman had been in a 5-for-29 skid before the at-bat. He also hit a two-run homer in the ninth, his eighth of the season, against left-hander Brett Oberholtzer for his seventh career multi-homer game.

The Braves slugger said the last thing he tries do to during an at-bat is clear the fence.

“All I’m trying to do is a hit a line drive to left field and put backspin on it,” he said.

Matt Wisler (2-3) allowed one run and five hits with seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings to help the Braves to just their fourth win in 15 games.

“It’s great to see the bats coming alive again,” Wisler said. “Offense is swinging the bat right now, which is great to see.”

Atlanta is 2-2 since firing manager Fredi Gonzalez following Monday’s defeat at Pittsburgh.

Franco made a pair of errors, including a costly throwing miscue in the seventh that resulted in three unearned runs. He came in with two errors on the season.

“It’s part of the game, so I just try to forget that day and try to come in tomorrow and do my best for my teammates,” Franco said.

The Braves went up 5-1 with three runs in the seventh.

Franco overthrew first base to allow leadoff hitter Mallex Smith to reach second on the two-base error, and Smith went to second on Ender Inciarte’s groundout to second. Gordon Beckham singled to short over the drawn-in infield to plate Smith before Markakis broke the inning open with his first homer of the season, an opposite-field, two-run shot.

Philadelphia scored its run on Ryan Howard’s first-inning groundout.

“Not a real good night,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.


The surprising Phillies, who are in rebuild mode after losing 99 games last season, fell two games back of the Nationals for first place in the NL East. They dropped to 13-9 against the NL East. Philadelphia entered with the sixth-best winning percentage in baseball at .585, largely due to its success in close games. The Phillies are 14-3 in one-run games and have won each of their last 15 games by three runs or fewer.


Howard was struck in the left thigh by a foul ball off the bat of Franco in the sixth inning. Howard shook it off and both Howard and Franco got a laugh when Howard pointed to the outfield, ostensibly telling Franco to hit it out there.


Braves: SS Erick Aybar returned to the lineup after sitting out Thursday’s game at Pittsburgh because he swallowed a chicken bone in a pregame meal that required hospitalization and sedation for removal. Aybar went 1 for 3 with a walk.

Phillies: CF Odubel Herrera returned to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday’s game with a sore finger. Herrera went 0 for 3.


Braves RHP Williams Perez (1-1, 4.78) opposes Phillies LHP Adam Morgan (1-1, 6.41) on Saturday.

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