Phillies-Athletics observations: Jorge Alfaro powers Phils to 4th win in 5 games


Jorge Alfaro hit a tiebreaking two-run homer into the center field hedges in the sixth inning and the Phillies used seven pitchers to beat the Oakland Athletics, 5-3, on a soggy Saturday night.

With Rhys Hoskins hogging the attention these days, Alfaro is quietly hitting over .300 and looking comfortable behind the plate. The 24-year-old Colombian pounced on Simon Castro’s first pitch for his fourth homer in his 21st big league game this season. 

The Phillies rallied from a 2-0 deficit following a 1-hour, 46-minute rain delay in the third inning to win for the fourth time in five games. Cesar Hernandez and J.P. Crawford had RBI singles, and Crawford added a sacrifice fly. 

Ben Lively gave up a solo homer to Matt Olson in the first and didn’t return after the rain delay. 

The victory left the Phillies needing to finish 5-9 to avoid 100 losses. 

• After playing shortstop Friday, Crawford was back at third base, and the rookie snagged a hard line drive toward the line in the fifth. He continued to show he can hit big league pitching, with his sharp single to right off Chris Smith in the fourth tying it at 2. 

• Ty Kelly pinch hit for Lively after the delay and his liner to left turned into a double after Olson’s ill-advised dive. He scored on Cesar Hernandez’s two-out single up the middle. 

• Lively allowed two runs and two hits with two strikeouts and no walks in three innings. The weather thwarted another audition as he seeks a spot in next year’s rotation. 

• Odubel Herrera made a fine running catch of Matt Joyce’s deep drive to center to end the eighth. He then was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the inning and promptly stole second. 

• What happens when you combine Sepember baseball with expanded rosters and a lengthy rain delay that knocks out both starters? Seven combined pitchers through five innings and 14 in all. Victor Arano (1-0) pitched two hitless innings and Hector Neris allowed Jed Lowrie’s solo homer in the ninth before earning his 21st save. 

• Shortstop Freddy Galvis started after getting Friday off. He drew a one-out walk and raced to third when Castro (1-3) threw wild to first. But Nick Williams then fanned chasing a high fastball and Hoskins flied to left. 

• Outfielder Aaron Altherr was out of the lineup, but don’t be alarmed. “Just being careful with his hamstring,” manager Pete Mackanin said. "Plus, I’ve got to get everyone into games. It gives (Tommy) Joseph another start.” Joseph started at first and Hoskins was back in left field. 

• It started to rain in the second inning and home plate umpire Jerry Layne called for the tarp in the bottom of the third at 7:45 p.m. Play resumed at 9:31, but not before an amusing rain delay competition featuring right-hander Nick Pivetta (see story)

• Hoskins provided proof of why he’s a natural first baseman and not an outfielder. His throw home on Matt Chapman’s fly to medium left field hit the ground before it reached the pitcher’s mound, allowing Mark Canha to score and make it 2-0 in the second inning. 

• After homering in six straight games, Hoskins is 0 for 6 in the past two. He was upset when Layne rang him up as he tried to check his swing on a pitch in the dirt in the seventh. 

• Keep the remote handy Sunday while you watch the Eagles. Right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who pitched a no-hitter in 2013 and made the NL All-Star team a year later, makes his Phillies debut in his comeback from shoulder problems. Alvarez hasn’t pitched in a big league game since 2015 thanks to multiple surgeries and last month was with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League (see story). Lefty Sean Manaea (10-10, 4.65 ERA) starts for the A’s. 

• Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood and Kenta Maeda are scheduled to pitch for the major league-leading Dodgers when they visit for a four-game series starting Monday.