ATLANTA — Mid-game rain washed away a promising start for the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night.
Ryan Howard blasted his franchise-record 15th grand slam in the first inning and starter Jerad Eickhoff dominated early, but the Phillies wasted a six-run lead and lost 7-6 to the Atlanta Braves.
Eickhoff surrendered a solo home run to Atlanta’s red-hot Freddie Freeman in the fourth inning after retiring the first 10 batters.
Eickhoff got the next two batters out and then the skies opened, the offense closed up shop and the bullpen blew a 6-1 lead in a game twice delayed for a total of 2 hours, 24 minutes.
Neither Eickhoff nor struggling Atlanta starter Julio Teheran returned after a 1-hour, 53-minute rain delay.
“If things weren’t going bad enough, Eickhoff looked like he was having one of his best games and the rain came,” said Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin. “We got 14 hits, but we stranded 12 runners and … the bullpen is just not doing the job.”
Atlanta scored a pair of runs off Severino Gonzalez and two more off Luis Garcia in the sixth on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a three-run homer by catcher Tyler Flowers to draw within 6-5.
Mallex Smith and pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio had RBI singles in the eighth to lead. David Hernandez (3-4) ended a scoreless streak of 10 2/3 innings and took the loss.
Mauricio Cabrera (4-1) got the win for the Braves, and Jim Johnson got his 18th save.
“I think the rain delay kind of helped. Everybody got re-grouped,” Freeman said.
The Phillies were limited by more than rain. Closer Jeanmar Gomez (37 saves) was unavailable while resting, and fellow reliever Edubray Ramos was nursing an elbow issue. Stand-in closer Hector Neris was up in the bullpen in the eighth, but Mackanin didn’t want to insert him until there were two outs.
With one out and Freeman on first, Hernandez induced a fly ball to left-center field off the bat of Flowers. Starting left fielder Roman Quinn had left the game in the sixth, however, with an oblique strain. His replacement, Darin Ruf, didn’t get to the ball before it bounced on the warning track.
Outfielder Peter Bourjos wasn’t available; he’s away from the team as his wife is giving birth.
“That ball should have been caught,” Mackanin said. “If Quinn’s out there, he catches it. He wasn’t out there.”
Howard’s homerun was his 23rd in Turner Field, the most ever by a visiting player. David Wright of the Mets hit 19.
Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan (2-10, 5.57) has a career ERA of 3.19 in five starts against the Braves.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (8-5, 4.41) will make his final start as a near lock to lead Atlanta in wins for the year. He’s 1-1 in two career starts against Philadelphia with a 7.94 ERA after allowing five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in his lone start against the Phillies this season.