ATLANTA -- After the D-backs positioned themselves to halt their recent struggles, Freddie Freeman preserved R.A. Dickey's latest impressive effort and halted Archie Bradley's recent dominance as the Braves opened the second half with an eventful 4-3 win Friday night at SunTrust Park.
Brandon Phillips slipped rounding third base before scoring the winning run on the decisive eighth-inning single Freeman produced against Bradley, who had a 0.76 ERA over his 24 most-recent appearances before squandering a one-run, eighth-inning lead that had been gained via a two-out, two-strike wild pitch in the top of the eighth.
It was that kind of night as the Braves moved within two games of a .500 record (43-45) and the D-backs lost for the ninth time in their past 12 games.
Dickey set the tone for the evening as he pitched around trouble through the first five innings and got Taijuan Walker to ground into a double play after surrendering four consecutive one-out singles as Arizona tied the game with a run in the sixth inning. That accounted for the only damage incurred over six innings by the knuckleballer, who has produced a 1.09 ERA over his past five starts and allowed just three runs over his past 27 innings at home.
Walker surrendered Matt Kemp's first-inning single and then found a groove. After not being pinch-hit for with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the sixth, the D-backs' right-hander allowed Freeman to drill a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom half of the inning. It was the veteran's 17th homer of the season and the third he has hit within the 30 at-bats tallied since missing seven weeks with a fractured left wrist.
"I figured that had we hit for Taijuan, they had guys ready in the bullpen and they would have matched up," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "And I thought in the sixth inning to lose matchups and burn a two-for-one it just wasn't something I wanted to do."
Even with the recent struggles, the D-backs still own a nine-game cushion as they sit atop the National League Wild Card standings. The Braves are seven games behind the Rockies, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED On second thought: Former D-back Ender Inciarte began the bottom of the eighth with a single and advanced to third base on Phillips' double. When Freeman followed with his decisive single to left, Inciarte scored easily and Phillips tripped as he rounded third. After falling to the ground and recognizing Gregor Blanco had made a lackadaisical throw, the veteran second baseman darted toward the plate and scored the decisive run in uncontested fashion.
"It was so slow and I saw him right in front of me going around third, so I thought he was going to score easy," Blanco said. "I started thinking more about the runner on first base and just making a quick throw to second."
"It looked like [someone] got [Phillips], but it was a good heads-up play to realize the left fielder really wasn't on him," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think he didn't feel he had a chance to throw him out, so he just kind of stopped on him."
Manufacturing a brief lead: As the D-backs bid for what would have been the Major League-most 30th comeback win, Chris Owings singled against Jose Ramirez to begin the eighth and then advanced to third base when Tyler Flowers made an errant throw on a stolen-base attempt. Ramirez retired the next two batters, but Owings scored when Flowers seemed to get crossed up on a 2-2 changeup that made its way to the screen behind the plate.
"I was just told by our [replay] group that the play wasn't going to be overturned so we trust them, they've done a great job all year." -- Lovullo, on why he didn't challenge Walker's inning-ending double play ball in the sixth
"It was like I was a dog chasing a bone or something, it was horrible. I almost came in and changed gloves. I wear a Gold Glove out there and it's embarrassing to miss a routine one like that." -- Dickey, on how he felt when he missed Goldschmidt's first-inning comebacker and then crawled on his hands and knees as the ball rolled through the grass to the left of the mound
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Before allowing a pair of runs in the eighth, the last time Bradley had allowed more than one run in an outing was Oct. 1, 2016.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Patrick Corbin will get the start for the D-backs in Saturday's 4:10 p.m. MST contest against Atlanta. In five career games (three starts) against the Braves in his career, Corbin has not allowed a run in 25 2/3 innings.
Braves:Mike Foltynewicz will take the mound when this three-game series resumes Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz produced a 2.16 ERA and limited opponents to a .217 batting average over his final four starts before the All-Star break.