Instant Replay: Phillies 1, Braves 0

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Instant Replay: Phillies 1, Braves 0

BOX SCORE

One day after losing 1-0, the Phillies ended their nine-game homestand on a high note, avoided their third sweep in their last four home series, and exacted revenge on the Braves Thursday afternoon with a 1-0 win of their own.

Ben Revere's RBI single with two outs in the eighth inning provided the game's lone run. It came two pitches after Ryan Howard worked a full-count, pinch-hit walk against a left-handed pitcher.

By salvaging the final game of the Braves series, the Phillies improve to 7-8 ahead of an impending 10-game West Coast road trip. The Braves are 10-5.

Starting pitching report
A.J. Burnett, in his first outing since being diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, made his best start as a Phillie.

Burnett allowed just five baserunners over seven shutout innings and induced a season-high 13 groundouts, giving the Phillies a glimpse of what they paid $16 million for.

Even after a pair of shaky, six-walk outings, Burnett's ERA is down to 2.74. He didn't factor into the decision, however, and is still chasing his first victory as a Phillie.

Burnett worked around early control issues -- he walked the pitcher in the third inning and ran eight three-ball counts -- to throw 101 pitches.

Braves left-hander Alex Wood was also sharp through seven innings, but surrendered the game-winning run in the eighth.

The lefty Wood (2-2, 1.67) allowed eight hits and a run over eight innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Bullpen report
Antonio Bastardo allowed a leadoff double to Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird to start the eighth, but struck out Wood, got Jason Heyward to line out, and popped up B.J. Upton on a 3-2 pitch that Upton narrowly mistimed to end the inning.

Jonathan Papelbon came on for a 1-2-3 save, his fourth of the season. Since allowing three runs in Texas to blow his first save opportunity of the year, Papelbon has pitched five scoreless innings and allowed just one hit.

The win went to Bastardo.

At the plate
Revere went 3 for 4 with the game-winning hit and a bunt single. He was also caught stealing for the first time this season on a pickoff.

Chase Utley, who had his 11-game hitting streak snapped Wednesday night, rebounded to go 2 for 3. Utley, who hit .219 against lefties from 2011-13, is 10 for 20 this season against left-handed pitchers. Those 10 hits vs. left-handed pitchers lead the majors. Mike Trout has nine.

Jayson Nix, starting at third base in place of Cody Asche, went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. Nix is hitting .150 this season with no walks, no extra-base hits, and 10 strikeouts in 20 at-bats.

Successful challenge
With two outs in the fifth inning, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons appeared to have second base stolen, but he overslid the bag. Second base umpire Bill Welke initially called Simmons safe as he raced to stretch his hand back to the base.

Bench coach Larry Bowa made a "Who knows?" gesture to Ryne Sandberg from the dugout, but Sandberg challenged anyway and was rewarded, as further replays showed Simmons' fingertips were just off the bag as Jimmy Rollins applied the tag.

Boo birds
Burnett grounded out in the sixth inning on a ball Dan Uggla bobbled twice. Loud boos came down on Citizens Bank Park toward Burnett after the play, presumably based on a perceived lack of hustle.

This after Burnett had already shut the Braves out for six innings ... with a hernia.

Attendance
A nice, round number -- 25,750 paying customers at Citizens Bank Park on a chilly Thursday afternoon.

Next up
The Phillies will fly to Denver tonight and begin a three-game series at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies at 8:40 p.m. Friday.

Here are the pitching matchups ...

Friday: Jonathan Pettibone (0-0, 1.80) vs. Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00)
Saturday: Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 3.50) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-0, 4.32)
Sunday: Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 3.86) vs. Juan Nicasio (2-0, 3.50)

Chatwood, Lyles and Nicasio are all right-handed pitchers.

Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

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Yordano Ventura, Andy Marte die in separate Dominican crashes

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura and former major leaguer Andy Marte died in separate traffic accidents early Sunday in their native Dominican Republic.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo said Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. It was not clear if Ventura was driving.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Ventura, 25, burst onto the baseball scene with a 100 mph fastball and an explosive attitude to match. He was a fierce competitor always willing to challenge hitters inside, then deal with the ramifications when they decided to charge the mound.

He went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 2014, his first full season in the big leagues, and the next year he helped the long-downtrodden Royals reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He proceeded to dominate San Francisco in both of his starts, though the Royals would ultimately lose in seven games.

"Our prayers right now are with Yordano's family as we mourn this young man's passing," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement. "He was so young and so talented, full of youthful exuberance and always brought a smile to everyone he interacted with. We will get through this as an organization, but right now is a time to mourn and celebrate the life of Yordano."

Born June 3, 1991, in Samana, Dominican Republic, Ventura quit school at 14 and was laboring on a construction crew to support his family when he heard about a tryout, which led to a spot in the Royals' academy on the island.

The right-handed Ventura went 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA last season, and wound up pitching his entire career for the Royals, going 38-31 with a 3.89 ERA.

Fans began arriving at Kauffman Stadium shortly after Ventura's death was announced, leaving flowers, hats and other mementos outside the stadium. Flags outside the ballpark also were lowered to half-staff.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played in the Major Leagues from 2005-2010 with Atlanta and Cleveland and returned in 2014 with Arizona. He hit .218 with 21 home runs and 99 RBIs in the big leagues. He spent the last two seasons in South Korea, where he hit 22 homers last year.

Both Ventura and Marte were part of the Dominican winter league team Aguilas Cibaenas, though neither was playing this season.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte that was issued before Ventura's death became known.

Ventura is the second young star pitcher to die in past four months. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, 24, was among three men killed in a boating accident in September.

Two other active Dominican baseball players have died on the country's dangerous highways in recent years.

St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Oscar Taveras -- a close friend of Ventura -- died in 2014 when he crashed in his hometown of Puerto Plata. He was 22. Shortstop Andujar Cedeno died at age 31 in a 2000 crash in the city of La Romana.

A 2015 study by the World Health Organization found that the Dominican Republic had the highest traffic accident death rate in the Americas, with a rate of 29.3 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

Phillies officially sign outfielder Michael Saunders, DFA Severino Gonzalez

The Phillies on Thursday officially announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders to a one-year deal with a club option for 2018. 

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Saunders will make $9 million this season with the Phillies and the club option for 2018 will be worth $11 million with escalators potentially pushing it to $14 million.

Saunders, 30, is the left-handed hitting outfield bat the Phils were seeking. He hit 24 home runs for the Blue Jays last season in his walk year, making the AL All-Star team before slumping in the second half.

Saunders hit .298/.372/.551 with 16 homers in 82 games for the Blue Jays before the All-Star break, then hit .178/.282/.357 with eight homers in 58 games after.

He had a good year against same-handed pitching, hitting .275 with a .927 OPS and eight homers against lefties. 

He'll likely start in right field for the Phillies, with Odubel Herrera in center and Howie Kendrick in left (see Phils' projected lineup).

It was important to Phillies GM Matt Klentak that the player he signed to fill the spot in the outfield was not going to block young outfielders like Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and others.

On a one-year deal, Saunders came relatively cheap to the Phils, lingering in free agency as other hitters found contracts. In the middle of last summer, Saunders seemed poised for a multi-year contract like the four-year, $52 million deal Josh Reddick signed with the Astros. His second half cost him some money.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Saunders, the Phillies designated right-hander Severino Gonzalez for assignment.