ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward jump-started the previously slumping Atlanta offense Thursday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, just like the Braves hope he will in the upcoming postseason.
Heyward smashed a leadoff homer on the first pitch he saw and was 5-for-5 with three doubles as the National League East champions gave David Hale his first major league victory by beating the Phillies 7-1 at Turner Field.
It was just Heyward's fifth start since missing a month with a broken jaw and he had been 2-for-15 before busting out for career highs in hits and extra-base hits.
The Braves (94-65) moved into a tie with Central Division leader St. Louis for the best record in the NL and home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Cardinals were idle Thursday.
Hale, from the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, allowed seven hits and a run over six innings, striking out five and walking none. His ERA after two starts is 0.82.
Hale, who turns 26 on Friday, struck out nine over five scoreless innings in his debut against San Diego on Sept. 13, but received a no-decision. The right-hander allowed four hits and a walk in that game, setting a record for the most strikeouts by a Braves pitcher in his first game.
The loss was the Phillies' seventh in eight games, and they have dropped 22 of their past 28 road games.
The Braves got six hits in the first inning and batted around as Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd (2-7) needed 41 pitches to finally retire the side. Freddie Freeman had an RBI double in the inning and so did Chris Johnson, who had been hitless in his previous 13 at-bats.
The leadoff homer was Heyward's third in 27 games batting first in the order, and he wasn't done getting things started. He doubled to open the second inning, and Cloyd was gone after Evan Gattis followed two walks with a ringing two-run double.
The loss was the fifth straight for Cloyd, who didn't get an out in the second inning. He allowed eight hits -- five for extra bases -- and seven runs, his ERA jumping to 6.37.
NOTES: Braves C Brian McCann left in the second inning with a strained right adductor muscle and was listed as day-to-day. He struck out in his only at-bat. ... Braves OF Reed Johnson, denying he threw a punch, will appeal his one-game suspension and fine for his part in Wednesday's melee with Milwaukee. He wasn't kicked out of the game. Brewers OF Carlos Gomez, whose actions after a first-inning homer touched off the hostilities, didn't appeal his suspension and sat out Thursday's game in New York against the Mets. Freeman, who was ejected, and McCann received fines. ... Braves RHP Brandon Beachy, who underwent Tommy John reconstruction 15 months ago, had arthroscopic surgery on the elbow Thursday to clear debris after having issues with tendinitis. He was 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts before being shut down in late August. ... 1B Ryan Howard, who had been mostly absent from the Phillies since undergoing season-ending left knee surgery in July, rejoined the team and took part in batting practice. ... Phillies LHP Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.93 ERA) takes a 3-1 record and 2.63 ERA against the Braves this season into his fifth start against them Friday night. RHP Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.24 ERA) will pitch for the Braves.