By AARON BRACY
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A playoff chase has J.T. Realmuto feeling energized.
Realmuto hit one of four Philadelphia home runs to help the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 9-5 on Thursday night.
Cesar Hernandez had a homer and an RBI single and Jean Segura and Adam Haseley also went deep for the Phillies, who remained two games behind the Cubs and Brewers for the second NL wild-card spot.
Philadelphia blew the game open with three runs in the eighth off right-hander Anthony Swarzak thanks to Realmuto’s 25th of the season, a two-run shot, and Sean Rodriguez’s RBI double.
It was the fifth homer in the last eight games and 10th in 26 contests for Realmuto, whom the Phillies have leaned on heavily this season. The catcher appeared in his 138th game on Thursday.
Realmuto said he’s gotten an extra boost from the playoff push.
“That gives me extra adrenaline and makes me forget I am tired when the game starts,” he said. “Everybody that plays the game wants to be part of a playoff race, wants to get to the World Series and win the World Series.”
Realmuto became the fifth catcher in Phillies history to reach 25 homers in a season.
“He’s seemingly getting stronger,” Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler said.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his 39th homer and Ozzie Albies doubled, homered and drove in a pair of runs for the NL-East leading Braves, who are in front of the Nationals by 8 ½ games.
Jared Hughes (5-5) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Drew Smyly.
The Phillies led 5-4 in the sixth when Hernandez singled to right with two outs to score Maikel Franco from second and make it a two-run game.
Atlanta pulled within a run again in the seventh on Acuna’s two-out drive to center that gave him 95 RBIs.
The Braves threatened in the eighth, getting runners to second and third with two outs, but Hector Neris got Dansby Swanson to line out to left for the final out. Neris then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, registering the final four outs for his 26th save in 32 chances.
Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t thrilled that Neris took several extra warmup pitches in the bullpen after Kapler came out to inform home-plate umpire Roberto Ortiz of a pitching change.
“I mean, the guy just keeps throwing,” Snitker said. “They go out and get him, and he just keeps throwing. It’s probably something that’s going to need to be addressed in the future with the league. If the reliever gets told to come in the game and he doesn’t come in the game, there needs to be a consequence for it.”
Haseley gave Philadelphia the lead for good by driving an 89-mph, 3-1 fastball from Julio Teheran (10-9) over the wall in right-center to make it 3-2.
Albies put the Braves in front 2-0 in the first with a two-run shot, his 22nd, to left.
Hernandez led off the bottom of the first by going deep to right-center off Teheran, who allowed five runs on five hits in four innings.
Smyly allowed four runs on four hits with six strikeouts and a walk in four innings.
Philadelphia set a club record for home runs at home with 117, topping the 116 hit in 2007.
HIT AND RUN
Acuna stole a pair of bases in the first, giving him 36 for the season. The 21-year-old is the youngest player in major-league history to record at least 35 homers and 35 steals in a season.
Braves: RF Nick Markakis, out since July 27 with a fractured left wrist, took batting practice for the second straight day. He’ll be reevaluated on Friday when a decision on whether to activate him will be made. . LHP A.J. Minter (left shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 60-day DL, ending his season. He has a 7.06 ERA in 36 appearances. . LF Johan Camargo (right shin contusion) was not in the lineup after fouling a ball of his shin in Wednesday’s game. . LHP Grant Dayton (fractured right toe) was activated from the 60-day IL.
Phillies: LF Corey Dickerson (left foot soreness) was not in the lineup. He was injured while grounding out in the sixth inning on Wednesday. X-rays were negative.
Braves: Open three-game set at Washington on Friday night with RHP Mike Soroka (11-4, 2.67) facing Nationals’ Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.56).
Phillies: After an off day on Friday, host Boston for two games beginning Saturday night when RHP Aaron Nola (12 -5, 3.70) opposing Red Sox LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (17-6, 3.73).