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Braves blanked by Phillies
Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies starter Nick Pivetta delivers during the fourth inning of Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves in Philadelphia. Pivetta allowed just four hits over seven shutout innings to earn the win. - photo by Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Nick Pivetta struck out seven over seven innings, and Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr each homered to lead the Phillies to a 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

The Phillies took the opener of the three-game series and moved a half game behind Atlanta for first place in the NL East.

Philadelphia hasn't had a winning record since it made the last of five straight postseason berths in 2011. The Phillies lost 96 games in 2017 — the third straight season of more than 90 losses.

Under first-year manager Gabe Kapler, the Phillies are back in a battle for first in late May for the first time since Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels dominated during the glory years. But in a year where the Eagles won the Super Bowl, Villanova won a national championship and the 76ers won 52 games, perhaps Philly fans need more than 45 games to hop on the bandwagon. Citizens Bank Park — the site of an NL-record 257 straight sellouts that ended in 2012 — was thin with just over 21,000 fans announced on a gorgeous night.

"It's a big one for us," Kapler said.

And, it came against a familiar rival.

The Braves played the Phillies for a whopping 10th time already, resulting in this quirk: Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz faced Pivetta for the fourth time this season.

Hard to believe, Harry.

The right-handers each delivered outings worthy of two teams fighting for first.

Pivetta (4-2) allowed only four hits, walked one and won his third straight start. Seranthony Dominguez tossed a scoreless eighth and Hector Neris finished the five-hitter in the ninth with his ninth save.

Foltynewicz (3-3) allowed six hits and struck out five in six innings. His lone run allowed came when Williams hit a solo shot in the fourth, an opposite-field poke to left for his third homer of the year. The Phillies have homered in 16 straight games.

Altherr pinch hit for Pivetta in the seventh and crushed a two-run homer to left off Shane Carle for a 3-0 lead.

Two swings, one nice win.

"I take pride in the way a lot of our players have played," Kapler said. "I take pride in the way they've worked. I take pride in their preparation. I really love our players. I love coming to work with them every day. I ride the emotion that they ride."

The Phillies and Braves don't play again after this series until they face each other seven of the final 10 games of the season.

Maybe in September, they'll be playing for the title.