ATLANTA (AP) — Nick Markakis hit a three-run homer with two out in the ninth inning, capping the Atlanta Braves’ comeback from a five-run deficit that rocked the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 Thursday and ruined the managing debut of Gabe Kapler.
Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies also homered for Atlanta, which won with a walk-off hit on opening day for the first time since 1998.
Hector Neris (0-1) gave up an infield hit to Charlie Culberson and an intentional walk to Freeman before Markakis drove a 1-1 pitch over the right-field wall.
Cesar Hernandez homered for the Phillies, who wasted a strong performance by Aaron Nola — the youngest opening-day starter for the Phillies since Dennis Bennett in 1964. Kapler was sure to feel the heat for lifting the 24-year-old Nola in the sixth with a 5-0 lead after just 68 pitches, especially when the bullpen gave it away.
Freeman hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Albies led off with a eighth with another drive into the seats, sparking a three-run inning that tied the game at 5. The Phillies contributed greatly, walking two before a terrible defensive sequence by catcher Andrew Knapp.
He let a pitch graze his glove for a passed ball, caught a break when the ball ricocheted right back to him, only to skip a throw into left field trying to catch Freeman as he took off for third.
Freeman sprinted home on the error to make it 5-4, and Preston Tucker followed with a run-scoring single to center.
Arodys Vizcaino (1-0) earned the win by striking out the side in the ninth.
Cesar Hernandez homered for the Phillies.
Nola pitched into the sixth inning , leaving with one out and the big lead. He wound up being charged with a run while watching from the dugout when Hoby Milner gave up Freeman’s two-run shot.
Julio Teheran started on opening day for the fifth straight year, the most for any Braves pitcher since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966. He gave up only four hits over 5 2-3 innings, but wound up being charged with four runs when the bullpen let him down as well.
The game drew an announced crowd of 40,208, which was nearly 1,000 shy of the listed capacity at 2-year-old SunTrust Park. The Braves said it was officially a sellout, even though there were noticeable patches of empty seats throughout the stadium.
Phillies: Three pitchers were placed on the 10-day disabled list before the game as Philadelphia set its 25-man roster. The moves for RHPs Jerad Eickhoff (right lat strain), Tommy Hunter (right hamstring strain) and Mark Leiter Jr. (right forearm strain) were all retroactive to March 26.
Braves: C Tyler Flowers left the game during his first at-bat of the season after fouling off a pitch in the second inning. Flowers winced in pain and headed straight to the clubhouse with what was described as left oblique “discomfort.” It’s not known how long he’ll be out. Kurt Suzuki finished Flowers’ at-bat and went the rest of the way behind the plate.
RHP Nick Pevetta, who was 8-10 with a 6.02 ERA in 2017, gets the start for the Phillies in Game 2 of the series Friday night.
The Braves will counter with RHP Mike Foltynewicz, who was 10-13 with a 4.79 ERA last season.
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)