Braves Drop Game One of NLDS 7-6 to Phillies

ATLANTA (AP) — Nick Castellanos had already carried quite a load with his bat.

When the Philadelphia Phillies needed his glove in the ninth inning, he didn’t let them down.

Castellanos drove in three runs and made a potentially game-saving catch, lifting the Philadelphia Phillies over the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves 7-6 in the opener of their NL Division Series on Tuesday.

The Phillies have won three straight games to begin these playoffs, hardly looking like a team making its first postseason appearance since 2011. They followed up their wild-card sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a victory over the team that finished 14 games ahead of them in the NL East.

It wasn’t easy. Matt Olson hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Zach Eflin to bring the Braves within a run.

But Castellanos, capping off a brilliant all-around day, made a sliding catch in right field for the second out to help snuff out the comeback — a clutch play from a player frequently maligned for his defense.

“Do anything I could to not let it hit the ground,” Castellanos said of his mindset.

He sprawled out on the grass — arms raised above his head, the ball securely in his glove — before rolling over and flipping it back to the infield.

Castellanos appears to be finding his groove after missing most of September with an oblique injury.

“I hope that’s the start of something, because he’s been out for a long time,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Maybe he’s really getting his timing back now.”

Alec Bohm added two RBIs for the Phillies, who built a 7-1 lead by the top of the fifth and made it stand up against a Braves lineup that squandered numerous chances to get back in the game earlier.

Travis d’Arnaud homered and drove in the other three Atlanta runs, but the team that won 101 games during the regular season and edged the New York Mets in a thrilling NL East race suddenly finds itself in a best-of-five predicament.

Game 2 is Wednesday afternoon in Atlanta before the series shifts to Philly.

FRIED FLOPS

This was quite a postseason comedown for Fried.

In Game 6 of last year’s World Series, he pitched six scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory that clinched Atlanta’s first title in 26 years.

Fried was stricken with a stomach bug in the final week of the regular season but insisted he was fully recovered.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” he said. “I took the ball today and put us in a big hole right off the bat.”

Spencer Strider, the Braves’ hard-throwing rookie, made the roster after he was sidelined since Sept. 18 with a sore left oblique. He was not available for Game 1, but could pitch later in the series.

UP NEXT

RH Kyle Wright, who led the majors with 21 wins, faces a must-win situation when goes for the Braves in Game 2. He’ll be opposed by Phillies RH Zack Wheeler (12-7, 2.87), who grew up in suburban Atlanta.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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