PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cesar Hernandez has become an unlikely power hitter.
Hernandez, Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera hit consecutive homers in the eighth, Zach Eflin threw seven sharp innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 5-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
Matt Kemp went deep for the Braves, who have lost six in a row after winning five straight.
Pinch-hitter Michael Saunders lined a double to right leading off the bottom of the eighth off reliever Arodys Vizcaino (1-1). Hernandez followed with a drive to right for his fourth homer and a 3-1 lead.
Last year, Hernandez hit six homers in 622 plate appearances. He has four in 85 this season.
“I feel stronger with more muscle on my body,” he said.
Manager Pete Mackanin joked he may move his leadoff hitter into the cleanup spot. Hernandez leads the team in homers.
“He used to have an uppercut swing, but we convinced him to level it out, stay above the ball and that’s enabled him to have more power,” Mackanin said.
Herrera tossed his bat aside with a high flip, rating it a 90 on a scale with 100 being the highest.
“I definitely wanted to make good contact,” he said through an interpreter.
It was the eighth time in franchise history the Phillies hit three straight homers and first since June 13, 2008 when Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell went back-to-back-to-back at St. Louis.
Eflin gave up one run and three hits in seven sharp innings in his second start since replacing injured righty Clay Buchholz.
Joely Rodriguez (1-0) got two outs in the eighth to earn his first major league win and Hector Neris finished with a shaky ninth. Neris allowed one run and left the bases loaded.
The Phillies have won five of six to even their record at 9-9.
Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz struck out nine in seven innings, allowing one run and four hits.
“That might be the best start of his major league career,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He was on the attack, throwing all of his pitches for strikes.”
Kemp drove Eflin’s first pitch in the seventh, a 92 mph fastball, out to right-center for his third homer and a 1-0 lead.
Foltynewicz allowed only one hit before Daniel Nava lined a one-out single to left in the seventh. Brock Stassi followed with a single on a 0-2 pitch and Freddy Galvis hit an RBI single to tie it at 1-1.
Atlanta’s Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to 10 games since April 14. He’s batting .375 (15 for 40). … Hernandez is the first player with 10 multi-hit games. … Altherr has scored a run in seven straight games. … Last time Braves allowed three homers in a row was Aug. 18, 2012 against the Dodgers — all surrendered by Ben Sheets.
BRING THE BROOMS
The Phillies earned their first three-game sweep since Aug. 12-14, 2016 against Colorado. … They swept a three-game set against Atlanta last July 4-6.
The Braves recalled RHP Matt Wisler from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned RHP Aaron Blair. Wisler joins Atlanta’s bullpen after making 45 starts for Atlanta in 2015-16.
Braves: After an off day, RHP Julio Teheran (1-1, 3.52 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series at the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Phillies: Following a day off, RHP Vince Velasquez (0-2, 7.20) takes the mound Tuesday night vs. the Miami Marlins.
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