Olson ties team homer mark, Braves beat Phillies 7-6 to move to brink of NL East title
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Matt Olson could have picked any number of milestones that stood out as his favorite in a season where his 51 homers matched the best in Braves’ history. Olson even considered Atlanta’s 281 total homers — a number stretched when the Braves hit three more against the Phillies — the most in a season for any team in National League history.
But the most impressive feat?
For Olson, make it 95 wins for the Braves — and put the champagne on ice.
Olson matched Andruw Jones for the Braves’ season home run record with 51 and Atlanta moved to the cusp of the NL East title, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 7-6 in 10 innings Tuesday night.
The Braves can wrap up their sixth straight division crown with a win Wednesday over the Phillies.
“That’s why we play this game,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s an exciting time of year and everybody’s aware of it. It’s kind of special that you get to experience that. Heck yeah, they should enjoy it, relish it. Can’t wait to get up, get a cup of coffee and play a game.”
Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run shot and Ronald Acuña Jr. had a two-run homer for the Braves. After blowing a 6-1 lead, they won on Eddie Rosario’s RBI single off Craig Kimbrel (7-6) that scored the automatic runner.
Olson is trying to pass Jones, who hit 51 in 2005.
“way to go @mattolson21 proud of you keep it going 60?” Jones wrote on social media.
Olson said it was a “cool feeling” to be tied with Jones.
“I mean, I’ve obviously been aware of the number,” Olson said.
The NL wild-card leading Phillies tied it on a home run in the ninth for the second straight day but failed to complete the comeback.
Trea Turner tied it at 6 with a leadoff homer —- his 11th in the last 13 games — in the ninth off Braves closer Raisel Iglesias.
Bryce Harper got his 1,500th career hit on his 17th homer of the season in the eighth and Bryson Stott hit a two run-shot off Joe Jiménez in the inning to cut it to 6-5.
Thanks to pop throughout the offense, the Phillies are never out of any game. Consider, Harper hit a two-run, two-out tying homer in the ninth a day earlier off Iglesias. Iglesias (5-4) blew ninth-inning leads in consecutive days and picked up two wins.
Brand Hand tossed a scoreless 10th for his first save.
“We’ve got to win these games, especially the close ones like that, especially when you’re at home,” Harper said. “Any time you’re able to win those games and put pressure on other teams, you’ve got to do it.”
Olson hit homers 49 and 50 in the second game of a doubleheader a night earlier, then hit the first pitch he saw from starter Zack Wheeler in the fourth inning of this one into the left-field seats. The fan who caught the ball threw it back onto the field. Olson’s 50th homer had to be retrieved from a fan by Phillies left fielder Kyle Schwarber.
Olson, who has 128 RBIs this season, has 11 homers in 18 career games at Citizens Bank Park.
The Braves hammered Wheeler for three homers and showed again they are determined not to shrink in the October spotlight like they did last season in Philadelphia.
After Nick Castellanos and Olson exchanged solo shots, the Braves bust the game open with a five-run fifth. Acuña hit his 37th of the season for a 3-1 lead and Ozuna crushed his 34th for a 6-1 lead.
The Braves are the betting favorite, per FanDuel Sportsbook, to win the World Series. Clinching the East on the same field where they were eliminated in the NL Division Series could put some finality in leaving last October’s flop behind them.
“The record’s better, so I mean you have to consider them better,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “But we’re better, too.”
Olson, who also has a 10-game hitting streak, entered the game on pace for 56 homers and 143 RBIs. He is just one of 15 players since 2000 to reach the 50-homer mark and the first left-handed hitter in the NL to hit 50 since Prince Fielder in 2007.
Olson has eight home runs in 12 games in September.
Harper is only the 18th player in MLB history to reach 1,500 career hits and 300 home runs before his 31st birthday.
Braves: Placed LHP Dylan Lee on the 15-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation.
The Braves send RHP Spencer Strider (16-5, 3.83 ERA) to the mound against Phillies LHP Cristopher Sánchez (2-3, 3.26 ERA).
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.