Phillies lose 9-3 in opening day matchup with Braves

The Phillies got off to a strong start with ace Zack Wheeler, but the Braves won after a seven-run eighth inning.

Zack Wheeler

Phillies opening day starter Zack Wheeler on March 29, 2024. (Philadelphia Phillies)

Matt Olson doubled three times, including a bases-loaded drive in a seven-run eighth inning that rallied the NL East champion Atlanta Braves past the Philadelphia Phillies 9-3 in Friday’s season opener.

Michael Harris II had three hits and snapped an eighth-inning tie with an RBI single off José Alvarado (0-1) that made it 3-2 and ignited a breakout inning. Alvarado allowed five runs and Connor Brogdon gave up two.

Pierce Johnson (1-0) tossed a scoreless seventh to earn the win for Atlanta in a game delayed a day by rain.

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Brandon Marsh hit a two-run homer for the Phillies.

The late collapse in the Phillies’ 142nd opener wasted a strong outing for ace Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler struck out five and walked none over six shutout innings in his first opening-day start. He took a no-decision when Adam Duvall ripped a two-RBI double to left off Matt Strahm in the seventh that tied the game 2-2.

Braves ace Spencer Strider, a 20-game winner last season, tossed only five innings and surrendered Marsh’s shot to left in the fifth. Strider pitched to derisive chants of “Stri-der! Stri-der!” from 44,452 full-throated Phillies fans already in postseason form.

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The Phillies and Braves are entrenched in one of baseball’s most intense rivalries the last few years. The Braves are the class of the division with six straight NL East titles and the 2021 World Series.

Philadelphia earned a wild-card berth out of the division the last two seasons — and eliminated the Braves at Citizens Bank Park in each of the last two seasons in the NL Division Series.

The Phillies missed a World Series ring after losing to Houston in 2022 and blowing a 3-2 lead in a seven-game loss to Arizona in last season’s NL Championship Series.

“Last couple of seasons, you get close. You can taste it, you can feel it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “They want it, they really do. It’s not something we talk about every day. But it’s part of the conversation certain days.”

Perhaps no player on Atlanta illustrated the tale of two seasons quite like Strider. In the regular season, Strider entered 8-0 with a 1.90 ERA against the Phillies. In the postseason, Strider has an 0-3 record with an ERA of 5.40 against Philadelphia.

In an odd sign — or flag — of the times, the Phillies unveiled a powder blue 2023 flag ahead of the opener for winning a wild card spot. The Phillies had only raised two red flags for their 1980 and 2008 World Series titles; blue flags for NL pennants; and white for division crowns.

On a blustery opener with weather conditions more fit for October, the Phillies again packed Citizens Bank Park as the ballpark kicked off its 20th anniversary season.

Phillies fans booed Braves manager Brian Snitker when he was introduced before the game.

Snitker called out Phillies fans in spring training for what he said was objectionable behavior toward visiting fans. His wife vowed never to return to the ballpark. Snitker, though, broke out a wide smile and laughed as he jogged to the third base line during the intros.


Braves C Sean Murphy left with left oblique tightness.


The Braves send LHP Max Fried to the mound against Phillies RHP Aaron Nola. Nola had started the last six openers, the longest streak for a Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton made 10 consecutive opening-day starts from 1977-86.

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