---- — ATLANTA (AP) — Brandon Beachy keeps making progress in his return from elbow ligament replacement surgery. And now that he’s reintroducing the slider to his repertoire, his confidence is growing.
“I’m starting to work on sequences and throwing pitches — breaking balls — for strikes, stuff like that,” the Northwestern High School graduate said. “Hopefully keep moving in that direction.”
Beachy pitched six strong innings, Chris Johnson drove in three runs and Jason Heyward homered and to help the Atlanta Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 on Wednesday night.
The Braves, who have won two straight and 17 of 19, lead the majors with a .612 winning percentage.
Philadelphia, which has lost seven of eight series since All-Star break, has dropped 19 of 23. The Phillies have lost 13 of 14 on the road.
Rain delayed the start of the game 1 hour, 48 minutes.
Beachy (2-0) held the Phillies scoreless until Dominic Brown’s 27th homer cut the lead to 5-2 with one out in the sixth.
John Lannan (3-6) lasted only 1 1-3 innings — the shortest outing in a career spanning 148 starts — before leaving with a left knee injury.
Beachy, making his fourth start since returning from surgery, allowed five hits, two runs and no walks. The right-hander struck out four, beating Philadelphia for the first time in nine career starts.
Beachy has been waiting to bring back his slider, which is traditionally the last pitch to return to form after Tommy John surgery. He missed 105 games before returning July 29.
“It’s something that I’m still going to have to work at to get the feel for it and really be confident with it,” Beachy said. “Whether it’s effective or not, if I keep it down, it’s something they’re going to have to think about.”
Craig Kimbrel converted his 28th consecutive save opportunity and 38th in 41 chances, striking out John Mayberry Jr., retiring Carlos Ruiz on a flyout and pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen on a groundout.
Kimbrel entered the game with none out in the ninth after David Carpenter allowed a leadoff homer to Darin Ruf and walked Cody Asche.
Beachy, who left for a pinch hitter in the sixth, improved to 1-3 and lowered his ERA to 3.67 in nine career starts against Philadelphia.
Luis Ayala and Luis Avilan combined to allow one hit with one strikeout in the seventh and eighth for Atlanta before Ruf’s seventh homer made it 6-3.
Heyward’s 11th homer gave him 12 RBIs since moving to the leadoff spot on July 27 — a span of 18 games in which he’s hit .382 and scored 20 runs.