Instant Replay: Braves 7, Phillies 1

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Instant Replay: Braves 7, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA -- The Phillies’ slow and painful trudge to the end of the season continued in a 7-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night.

The Braves, who have already wrapped up the NL East title, came out of the gate with five runs against Tyler Cloyd in the first inning and coasted to the victory.

The Phils have lost seven of their last eight games and are 19-20 under Ryne Sandberg.

The Phils are 6-22 in their last 28 road games.

Starting pitching report
Cloyd faced 13 batters; 10 reached base. Five of the eight hits he allowed were for extra bases. The right-hander has an ERA of 15.43 this month. He has pitched 14 innings in four September starts. Over that span, he has allowed 33 hits and 24 runs.

Atlanta rookie David Hale, in his second big-league start, held the Phillies to one run over six innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

Bullpen report
On the plus side, the Phillies' bullpen pitched seven shutout innings. Lefty Mauricio Robles led the way with three shutout innings.

Atlanta’s bullpen picked up three shutout innings.

At the plate
The Phillies had nine hits, but were a dreadful 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

The Phils have just five extra-base hits in the last four games, all doubles. They have not homered in eight straight games, their longest drought since 1996.

Jimmy Rollins had three hits for the Phillies.

Jason Heyward hit Cloyd’s first pitch of the game out of the park and it was all downhill from there for the Phillies. Heyward added three doubles and an infield hit to finish withfive hits. His four extra-base hits were one more than the Phillies had in the previous three games.

Howard visits
Ryan Howard, out for the season with a knee injury, worked out with the team before the game. He will be ready to go in spring training (see story).

Up next
Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.93) will make his final start of the season Friday night against Atlanta’s Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.24).

Suspended Phillies pitcher Alec Asher to begin rehab assignment

Suspended Phillies pitcher Alec Asher to begin rehab assignment

Phillies right-handed starting pitcher Alec Asher, who was suspended 80 games in late May for PEDs, will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday in the Gulf Coast League.

Asher, 24, was 3-0 with a 1.53 ERA in four starts with Triple A Lehigh Valley before the ban was handed down.

The Phillies will likely stretch him back out and get a look at him again in September. Asher debuted with the Phils last Aug. 30 after being acquired from the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade. He went 0-6 with a 9.31 ERA in seven starts last season but pitched well in the minors early this year thanks to the addition of a two-seam fastball.

Phillies-White Sox 5 things: First trip to Chicago's South Side since 2004

Phillies-White Sox 5 things: First trip to Chicago's South Side since 2004

Phillies (58-67) at White Sox (59-64)
8:10 p.m. on CSN

After going 2-4 on a six-game homestand against the Dodgers and Cardinals, the Phillies visit the White Sox for a brief two-game series. Rarely does interleague play take the Phils to the South Side of Chicago. 

How rarely?

1. The last time ...
The last time the Phillies were in Chicago to take on the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field was 2004. 

The series was so long ago that Ryan Howard hadn't yet made his major-league debut. Chase Utley was still a part-time player. Carlos Ruiz was wrapping up his first full season at Double A.

It was so long ago that Ricky Ledee, Tomas Perez and Doug Glanville were in the Phillies' lineup, and Frank Thomas was the White Sox DH. 

Since interleague play began in 1997, the only other park the Phillies have visited as sparingly as U.S. Cellular Field is Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. The Phils are 1-2 at both AL Central fields. 

At the beginning of the season it looked like this would be another reunion for the Phils and Jimmy Rollins, but the shortstop was designated for assignment by the White Sox after hitting .221 through 41 games.

2. Thompson's turn
Jake Thompson makes his fourth big-league start after going 1-2 with a 8.79 ERA in his first three. 

It's been a true struggle so far for Thompson, who has allowed 14 runs in 14⅓ innings on 14 hits and nine walks. He's walked multiple batters each game, and so far just 57.5 percent of his pitches have been strikes. 

Thompson keeps falling behind hitters with men on base, which is a recipe for disaster. It just seems like he's not finishing pitches out of the stretch. Or maybe he's tried too hard to evade solid contact and has nibbled instead. Whatever the case, it hasn't worked and Thompson will need to fix it to figure out what kind of pitcher he needs to be in the majors. 

Thompson had a 1.21 ERA in his final 11 starts at Triple A. The talent is there. The execution just hasn't been. A lot of times, young pitchers come up and struggle before figuring it out. The early successes of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and even Zach Eflin (after his first start) may cause you to forget that.

3. The book on Rodon
The Phillies for the first time face 23-year-old White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon, who was drafted third overall in 2014, four picks ahead of Nola.

Rodon is one of the only players in that entire draft who made it to the majors faster than Nola. He came up last season and went 9-6 with a 3.75 ERA for the White Sox, striking out 139 batters in 139⅓ innings but walking 71. 

This season, Rodon is 3-8 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 20 starts. It's been a rocky season, but he's been much better of late. Rodon missed almost all of July with a sprained wrist he suffered falling down the dugout steps. He's returned to pitch well in August, giving up four earned runs in 18 innings.

Rodon's control has improved significantly this season — he's walked 3.0 batters per nine innings after walking 4.6 as a rookie.

Rodon is a four-pitch pitcher with a four-seam fastball and sinker that average 94 mph, a slider at 87 and a changeup at 84. He throws the changeup just eight percent of the time.

Right-handed hitters have pounded Rodon this season, hitting .305/.365/.484. Lefties have hit just .220/.268/.286. Expect to see Tommy Joseph at first base and perhaps Tyler Goeddel in the outfield.

4. Scouting the Sox
The White Sox got off to a fast start this season, going 23-10 through May 9. They're 18 games under .500 since.

That early-season surge was built on timely offense and lights-out work from the bullpen. It probably inflated expectations for what is really just an average American League team.

Leadoff man Adam Eaton and veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera have had solid years for the Sox. Eaton has hit .276 with a .357 OBP and 37 extra-base hits. Cabrera has hit .295 with a .778 OPS.

The White Sox needed and still need more out of Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, though. Abreu is hitting a respectable .283/.338/.447 but has just 16 home runs. And that's with Abreu heating up this month, hitting .361 with five homers. The big Cuban slugger has declined in each of his three seasons in the majors, his OPS dropping from .964 to .849 to .785. He hit 36 homers as a rookie and 30 last season.

Frazier, per usual, has hit for power with 31 homers and 76 RBIs. But he's hitting just .212 with a .295 on-base percentage, and those 31 homers account for one-third of his hits. He's also striking out a lot, on pace for 160.

The White Sox are too top-heavy a team. Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are a solid one-two punch atop the rotation. On paper, Abreu and Frazier should be a productive middle-of-the-order pairing. Eaton and Cabrera are adequate table-setters. And high-priced closer David Robertson still has great stuff. But the formula just hasn't led to wins in 2016.

5. This and that
• This is the only week the rest of the season the Phillies have two off days (Monday and Thursday).

• The Phils face the White Sox in another two-game series Sept. 20-21 at Citizens Bank Park.

• The Phillies have the fifth-best interleague record in the NL this season at 8-8. 

• The Phils are 14-14 against left-handed starting pitchers.

Best of MLB: Adrian Gonzalez hits 3 of Dodgers' 7 HRs in win

Best of MLB: Adrian Gonzalez hits 3 of Dodgers' 7 HRs in win

CINCINNATI -- Adrian Gonzalez hit three of the Dodgers' seven homers -- driving in a career-high eight runs -- and rookie Corey Seager had a noteworthy homer as well on Monday, leading Los Angeles to an 18-9 victory and a split of its four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

The NL West leaders enjoyed their biggest home run splurge in 10 years. They've won 10 of their last 12 games against Cincinnati.

Gonzalez started it with a three-run shot in the first inning off Homer Bailey (2-2), who had his worst showing since returning from Tommy John surgery. The first baseman also had a solo shot in the fifth, when the Dodgers connected four times overall.

Gonzalez's three-run shot in the seventh tied his career high for homers. He drove in another run with a groundout as the Dodgers scored 18 runs for the first time in 10 years (see full recap).

Trumbo hits MLB-best 38th HR in Orioles' win
BALTIMORE -- Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 38th home run, Jonathan Schoop also went deep and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Washington Nationals 4-3 Monday night in a matchup between neighboring contenders.

Rookie Dylan Bundy (7-4) pitched six innings of three-hit ball for the Orioles, who had lost five of their previous six games -- all at home. The victory lifted Baltimore within two games of first-place Toronto in the AL East.

Bundy gave up two runs, walked four and struck out four. He's 5-3 with a 3.56 ERA in eight games since joining the rotation July 17.

Zach Britton worked a perfect ninth for his 38th save. The left-hander has not allowed an earned run in 43 games since May 5.

The Orioles did all their scoring against A.J. Cole (0-1) in his season debut. Cole was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to replace scheduled starter Stephen Strasburg, who was placed on the 15-day disabled (see full recap).

Fister helps Astros top Pirates
PITTSBURGH -- Doug Fister pitched seven scoreless innings, Teoscar Hernandez hit a two-run homer and the Houston Astros beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 on Monday night.

Hernandez connected off fellow rookie Jameson Taillon (3-3) in the fifth inning after A.J. Reed's leadoff walk. It was the third home run for Hernandez, who was called up from Triple-A Fresno on Aug. 12 to make his major league debut.

Alex Bregman, another Astros rookie, hit his fourth homer in the ninth inning off Neftali Feliz.

Houston won its fourth straight game and Pittsburgh lost its fourth in a row. Both teams are competing for wild-card spots.

Fister struck out six, walked one and retired 11 of the first 12 batters. He had allowed nine runs and 11 hits over nine innings in his previous two starts.

Ken Giles got his fourth save despite allowing David Freese's RBI single in the ninth (see full recap).