By ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jake Arrieta aced up.
Arrieta struck out seven in 6 2/3 sharp innings, Carlos Santana’s swinging-bunt broke a scoreless tie and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 4-0 on Wednesday night.
The Phillies took two of three to win their first series against the NL East-leading Braves in four tries and closed within a half-game of first place.
Arrieta (4-2) allowed seven hits and lowered his ERA to 2.45. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner showed exactly why the Phillies are paying him $30 million this season.
“The reason we got him is because he can go through one of the best lineups in the league three times,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “Never once did we feel he wasn’t in control.”
Even though it’s only May, Kapler called it a “big game” hours before first pitch.
“It felt a lot different,” he said.
Seranthony Dominguez retired the four batters he faced after entering with runners on second and third in the seventh. Hector Neris pitched the ninth to complete the eight-hitter.
Braves starter Luiz Gohara (0-1) gave up two runs and four hits in four innings in his first start of the season.
“They didn’t hit him hard,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Overall, he was good.”
Gohara retired the first two batters in the third before Rhys Hoskins walked, Odubel Herrera reached on an infield single and Aaron Altherr walked to load the bases. Santana beat out a slow roller to third to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
That’s all Arrieta and the bullpen needed.
“It’s shaping up to be a good division and we have to play good ball,” Arrieta said.
Arrieta escaped a jam in the second after the Braves put runners on second and third with no outs. Ender Inciarte led off with a single and Johan Camargo hit a double. But Dansby Swanson grounded out to third, Gohara struck out and Ozzie Albies bounced to first.
“That’s just a situation that determines that outcome of the game for me,” Arrieta said. “It’s an opportunity to preserve the game and I was able to get past that.”
Cesar Hernandez had an RBI single in the fourth, Maikel Franco had an RBI double in the fifth and pinch-hitter Nick Williams had an RBI double in the eighth.
The Phillies had two shutouts in the series, holding Atlanta to three total runs, only one of which was earned.
Since 1913, it was just the eighth time Philadelphia recorded at least two shutouts and allowed one or no earned runs in a series of any length, and just the second time since 1966. The other was at Los Angeles on June 9-11, 1995. Four of the team’s six shutouts this season have been against division opponents.
The Braves are 7-5 vs. the Phillies this season, but the teams won’t play again until they meet seven times in September during the final two weeks.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff will have tests on Thursday in Philadelphia before visiting a Thoracic Outlet Syndrome specialist in St. Louis about the twinges he felt in his fingers during a rehab start on Sunday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (5-1, 1.29 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game interleague series at Boston. It’ll be his first appearance against the Red Sox.
Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (1-0, 1.56 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game interleague series Friday night against Toronto. Eflin allowed eight earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in his major league debut vs. the Blue Jays in 2016.
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