Pivetta pitches Phillies to shutout of Braves
ATLANTA — Rookie Nick Pivetta said he isn’t worried about whether he’ll be in the Philadelphia Phillies’ starting rotation next season.
Based on what he showed Sunday, he has no need to be concerned. His spot may be secure.
Pivetta threw six strong innings and combined with three relievers on a shutout as the Phillies posted a 2-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park.
“I’m just trying to finish the season strong,” Pivetta said. “I’ve never been in this position before. We’ll see where it goes.”
Pivetta (7-10) turned in his longest outing since pitching seven scoreless frames June 15 against the Boston Red Sox. He allowed five hits, struck out four and walked one.
“It’s always about the pitching,” Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. “He was real effective for the most part. The key to his outing was he was throwing all his pitches for strikes. His breaking ball and his changeup, he did a good job throwing them ahead in the count, behind in the count.”
In his last two starts, Pivetta has allowed two runs in 12 innings. He will pitch again against the Mets on the final day of the season.
“I settled down and stuck with it, got ahead of guys, guys played great defense behind me and got the hits when we needed,” Pivetta said.
Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris each pitched a scoreless inning to give the Phillies their sixth shutout of the season.
Neris worked around two hits in the ninth inning, striking out three. He fanned pinch-hitter Matt Adams to finish the game to earn his 24th save and 18th in a row.
“Morgan continues to pitch well and Neris is Neris,” Mackanin said. “He makes you nervous, but he gets it done.”
Atlanta’s Luiz Gohara (1-3), a rookie left-hander, pitched seven innings for the first time and allowed one run on five hits and two walks. He struck out a career-high nine.
“He kept pitching and did a really good job,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s got the strike zone. He can throw the thing over.”
Mackanin compared Gohara’s breaking ball to the one that helped make Ron Guidry such an effective pitcher.
The Phillies broke through for a run in the fifth when Maikel Franco hit a solo homer into the second deck in left field.
It was Franco’s 21st homer and his first since Sept. 9. It gave him 70 RBIs, the first Phillies player to reach that plateau this season. Franco is hitting .500 with three homers and eight RBIs in his last 16 games.
“If Maikel is having a good September, I hope it carries through for the five or six months for next season,” Mackanin said. “Hopefully he’s got a better approach.”
The Phillies added a run in the eighth off reliever A.J. Minter. Cesar Hernandez, who reached on a fielder’s choice, scored when Aaron Altherr ended an 0-for-13 skid with a double in the left-field corner.
“Altherr got that big double,” Mackanin said. “Not sure how much it was fair by, but just glad it was fair and bounced around out there.”
The Phillies ran themselves out of opportunities twice in the first three innings.
Hernandez led off the game with a single, but was thrown out at second by right fielder Nick Markakis while trying to stretch it into a double. Jorge Alfaro singled to right and was thrown out trying to take second by Markakis in the third inning.
Markakis is the first Atlanta outfielder with multiple assists since Jason Heyward on Aug. 27, 2012, at San Diego.
Pivetta got plenty of help from his defense.
Alfaro threw out Ender Inciarte to completed a strike out-throw out double play in the first inning and the Phillies turned a double play in the third to erase a leadoff single.
Atlanta had the tying runs on base in the ninth inning when the game ended, falling short in its quest for a 21st final at-bat win.
“We gave ourselves a chance again,” Snitker said. “The guys never quit, they never stopped. Just like (Saturday) ... had the winning run at the plate.”
Atlanta was shut out for the 10th time this season.
NOTES: Philadelphia 2B Cesar Hernandez was back in the lineup Sunday after sitting out Saturday’s game. ... Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman returned Sunday after missing Saturday’s game with a stomach virus. ... Atlanta CF Ender Inciarte had three hits on Sunday, giving him 197, He’s trying to become the first Brave since 2006 to reach 200 in a season. ... Atlanta RHP Jim Johnson pitched for the first time since Sept. 4 and worked a perfect inning. ... The Braves finished the season 38-43 in their first season at SunTrust Park. The team went 50-31 in their first season at Turner Field and 43-38 in their first season at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.