ATLANTA (AP)After swinging through a 95 mph fastball for strike three to end the eighth inning, Kyle Schwarber went back to the Philadelphia dugout in an 0-for-16 postseason slump.
He wasn’t the only Phillies hitter who came up empty Wednesday.
One night after scoring seven runs on 12 hits, the Phillies and their big bats went quiet in a 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves that evened their best-of-five NL Division Series at a game apiece.
Schwarber, who led the National League with 46 home runs this season, struck out three times and finished 0 for 4.
”For me, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in play,” he said. ”I’m the guy at the top of the lineup. I’ve got to be able to get on base for these guys. I don’t feel bad or anything up at the plate, so I just have to make the adjustments and go from there. Put in a good day’s work and then be ready to go on Friday.”
Schwarber isn’t alone in his struggles. Rhys Hoskins, who bats No. 2 in the lineup behind Schwarber, is 1 for 18 in the playoffs and went 0 for 4 in Game 2. Nick Castellanos was 0 for 3 after driving in three runs with three hits in Game 1.
Braves closer Kenley Jansen retired Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto and Bryce Harper in order to end the game. Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the wild-card Phillies lost for the first time in four postseason games this month.
”You want to do everything you can to get on base and set it up for the people behind you or knock guys in because they’re on base,” Hoskins said. ”I feel like I’ve had pretty good at-bats so far. I feel like I’m getting pitched pretty tough, too, but that’s what happens in the postseason.”
After rain delayed the first pitch by nearly three hours, it took until the fourth inning for the NL East champion Braves to get a hit off Phillies starter Zack Wheeler. Ronald Acuna Jr. singled to begin the inning but didn’t budge as Wheeler retired the next three batters.
The night unraveled for Wheeler and the Phillies when the pitcher hit Acuna on the inside of his right elbow with two outs in the sixth. Acuna stayed down in a crouched position in obvious pain for a couple of minutes but got up, went to first base and stayed in the game. There was a five-minute delay, but Wheeler said it had no bearing on his performance.
Dansby Swanson followed with a walk before Wheeler gave up a hard-hit grounder to Matt Olson that glanced off Hoskins’ glove at first for a single that scored Acuna from second and broke a scoreless tie.
”Yeah, that’s a play I’ve made before, I’ll make again, didn’t make it tonight,” Hoskins said. ”I just misjudged the speed with which it was hit. I thought he hit it harder, and he didn’t.”
Atlanta scored again without the ball leaving the infield when Austin Riley hit a dribbler up the third-base line that Wheeler fielded but not in time to make a throw to first, allowing Swanson to score from third. Travis d’Arnaud followed with a single up the middle to score Olson from second, and the Phillies trailed 3-0.
That was the end of the night for Wheeler, who gave up four hits and three runs with one walk and five strikeouts.
”Just not making my pitches,” Wheeler said. ”I went back-to-back sliders to Olson. I felt like I executed that. He swung over it. It was down the middle and right in his bat path. It was execution. To d’Arnaud, I left a slider up over the middle. I went from spiking them to leaving them over the middle. I take pride in that kind of stuff.”
Harper led off the second with a double but was stranded at third when Braves starter Kyle Wright got Alec Bohm to ground out and Brandon Marsh to strike out. Wright issued his first free pass when Marsh walked with one out in the fifth. He got no further.
Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.
Schwarber said the Phillies are already looking forward to playing at home this weekend. They’ve been on the road for the last 14 games going back to the regular season.
”We weren’t able to put any runs over, but you have to be excited,” Schwarber said. ”It’s going to be a great atmosphere and that’s going to be on our side. It’s not the No. 1 scenario. We’d like to go back 2-0, but it’s a pretty good place to be at still.”
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports