By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins and the Philadelphia Phillies haven’t given up on their NL wild card hopes.
Beating the first-place Atlanta Braves helped the Phillies keep the faith.
Hoskins and Jose Pirela hit two-run homers off Dallas Keuchel in Philadelphia’s five-run fourth inning and the Phillies escaped in the ninth to beat Atlanta 5-4 on Tuesday night and prevent the Braves from moving closer to clinching the NL East.
The Phillies trail Milwaukee and the Cubs by four games in the race for the second NL wild card. They began the night five games behind the second wild card.
“I think first and foremost we still have odds, right, and we know that,” Hoskins said. “Sure, we know they may be long and we still may have some work to do, but we’re still in it.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said he doesn’t want his players to focus on the standings.
“We know where we are in the standings,” Kapler said. “We know what the numbers say, but it’s not what we’re paying attention to right now. We’re paying attention to fighting for each other down the finish line.”
The Phillies’ bullpen almost blew a 5-2 lead.
Adeiny Hechavarría’s pinch-hit homer off José Alvarez in the eighth cut Philadelphia’s lead to two runs. Adam Duvall led off the ninth with a homer off Phillies closer Héctor Neris, cutting the lead to one.
Neris walked Ronald Acuña Jr., who stole second and moved to third on Ozzie Albies’ groundout to Hoskins at first. Neris walked Freddie Freeman before striking out Josh Donaldson on a called third strike. Neris earned his 27th save when Nick Markakis popped out to end the game.
“It’s happened so much here that you expect it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the ninth-inning comeback attempt. “They always put themselves in position to win. … It’s a good trait to have.”
The Braves still need a combination of three wins and Washington losses to clinch the division.
Vince Velasquez (7-7) gave up two runs in the first before recovering with four straight scoreless innings for his first career win over the Braves. The right-hander allowed five hits in five innings.
Keuchel’s streak of five straight wins ended when he gave up five runs in five innings. Keuchel (8-6) allowed a combined four earned runs in his winning streak but topped that total in the fourth.
The Phillies’ big inning began when Braves third baseman Donaldson bobbled Bryce Harper’s grounder after cutting in front of shortstop Dansby Swanson in an attempt to field the ball. Hoskins followed Harper’s infield hit with his 29th homer to right field.
Pirela’s first homer, off the facing of the second deck in left field, drove in Sean Rodríguez, who singled. César Hernández drove in Scott Kingery, who reached on an infield hit.
Braves: OF Ender Inciarte (right hamstring strain) worked on outfield drills before batting practice but is “still a ways away” from game action, according to Snitker. Inciarte has been out since Aug. 17. … IF Charlie Culberson, already declared out for the season, was placed on the 60-day injured list when the team recalled C John Ryan Murphy from Triple-A Gwinnett. Culberson suffered multiple broken facial bones when he was hit in the face by a pitch from Washington’s Fernando Rodney on Saturday. He will not require surgery.
Phillies: OF Corey Dickerson was placed on the 60-day IL with a broken bone in his left foot. Kapler said a follow-up test revealed the fracture after initial X-rays were negative. Dickerson had not played since Sept. 11. RHP Edubray Ramos (right shoulder impingement) was reinstated from the 60-day IL.
BRAVES HOMER RECORD
Hechavarría’s homer was the Braves’ franchise-record 236th of the season. Duvall’s homer pushed the record to 237. Atlanta hit 235 homers in 2003.
Keuchel bemoaned his inability to get out of the fourth with no more damage after giving up Hoskins’ homer. “That’s what I’ve been so good at, limiting the damage,” he said. “I couldn’t do that tonight.”
Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (8-12, 4.20) is 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA while lasting only a combined 9 1/3 innings in three starts against Atlanta this season.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (10-9, 3.50) will try for his first win of the season against the Phillies. He is 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA in two starts against the Phillies this year.