Freddy Galvis went 4 for 5 with a walk-off home run in the Phillies' 6-5 win over the Braves on Saturday night. (USA Today Images)
The Phillies sent Freddy Galvis down to Triple A at the end of June for two reasons: to work on shortening his stroke and to allow him to play every day.
Galvis showed Saturday that the demotion paid off. The switch-hitter sprayed three singles in each direction on the field before lifting the Phillies to a 6-5 win over the Braves with a walk-off homer in the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
"That's why I went to Lehigh Valley, to try to go to the other field, try to spread the ball more," Galvis said. "I think it's working."
The 23-year-old had an infield single to third base in the second inning, an RBI single to center in the fifth and another single to right in the seventh. He finished 4 for 5 with two RBIs.
"I liked his line-drive stroke that he had, staying on top of the ball," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I think in the ninth there he just reacted to a pitch and got a hold of it, resulting in a home run without a big home-run swing.
"I think the hits leading up to the home-run swing all worked, and that's his game for me is staying on top of the ball and using the whole field with a line-drive stroke."
Former Phillie Freddy Garcia (0-1) got just one out before giving up the long ball to Galvis.
Galvis' heroics overshadowed Jonathan Papelbon's shortcomings and Kyle Kendrick's best start in quite some time. Kendrick was in line for his first win since Aug. 6 before Papelbon surrendered a two-run, two-out, two-strike homer to Andrelton Simmons in the ninth to tie it.
Papelbon (5-1) was credited with the win in his seventh blown save. It was the third time he simultaneously blew a save and got the victory.
Kendrick tied a career high with eight strikeouts and tossed a quality start for just the second time in eight outings. Over six frames, he allowed three runs on four hits and three walks. He also hit a batter.
"He had better stuff tonight," Sandberg said. "He had both fastballs working. To right-handed hitters he had cut-fastballs away, and to left-handed hitters he had the two-seam fastball. So he had his stuff tonight to be effective."
Kendrick retired the side in order three times and picked on Braves leadoff hitter B.J. Upton, fanning him three times in as many at-bats.
"I'd rather take a ground ball, but strikeouts look better," Kendrick said. "I'm not trying to strike out guys. It's all luck if I'm striking out guys. I'm just trying to be aggressive, pitch to contact. Strikeouts, I guess they look nice, but as long as you get an out, that's all that matters."
The Phillies' offense exploded for 15 hits one night after it could muster only four. Following Galvis' four base knocks, Cesar Hernandez and Kevin Frandsen had three apiece, and Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz each added two. Darin Ruf was 0 for 2 but drew three walks.
The Phillies got at least one hit in every inning.
Before Papelbon choked up the lead, Ruiz's two hits were the biggest of the evening — a two-run, two-out single to tie the game in the third, and a double to knock in the go-ahead score in the fifth.
"He's playing really well," Sandberg said. "I think he's playing like the Chooch that everybody knows. He's a key guy in the lineup right now and he has been for three weeks now."
Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman held the lead and kept the Braves scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings.
Atlanta starter Alex Wood was not sharp in his second start against the Phillies. He surrendered four runs on nine hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings. In his first start against the Phils on Aug. 4, the left-hander limited them to one run and two hits across six frames.
The walk-off home run was the second of Galvis' young career. He also lifted the Phillies to a dramatic victory on May 19 against Reds fireballer Aroldis Chapman.
"It feels pretty good," Galvis said. "Up here you hit a walk-off homer, it's the best feeling."
Though the Phillies will just be spoilers the rest of the way, it still feels good to win two straight in comeback fashion late over the team with the best record in the National League, Sandberg said.
"It means a lot," he said. "There's a game to be played, it's a game to be won, and I think the improved baseball against a team like the Braves shows the resilience of the guys. Good hustle out there, good baseball being played and that's what you have to do to beat the Braves."