The Phillies walked it off against the Pirates Sunday, winning 3-2 in 11 innings to complete a four-game sweep over a team that entered Citizens Bank Park six games over .500.
Andrew Knapp and Aaron Altherr took care of the 11th-inning heroics with a triple and a game-winning single, but it was the work of the Phillies' two most surprising pitchers which put them in position to do so.
Nick Pivetta continued the Phillies' strong run of starting pitching, allowing two runs over 6⅓ innings with seven strikeouts. He paid for his only mistake, a two-run homer by catcher Elias Diaz. The Phils had just one hit while Pivetta was in the game.
Victor Arano, who began the season by retiring 25 consecutive batters, lost his streak of perfection but more importantly weaved his way out of rallies in both the ninth and 10th innings, stranding two runners apiece.
At 14-7, the Phillies ended Sunday's game just a half-game behind the Mets and Diamondbacks for the best record in the National League.
They allowed just five runs in the four-game sweep of the Pirates.
Dominant starting pitching
The Phillies' starting rotation has been lights-out the last dozen games. Just have a look:
• 2.38 ERA
• 0.98 WHIP
• 8.0 K/9
• 1.8 BB/9
• .218 opponents' batting average
• 11 extra-base hits allowed in 12 games
Pivetta himself is on a roll, allowing a total of five runs in his last four starts.
Including the final few weeks of 2017, Pivetta has a 2.00 ERA over his last eight outings with 47 strikeouts and 12 walks in 45 innings.
Pivetta has been especially effective the first time facing a batting order this season. His opponents have hit .167/.195/.195 the first time through with 15 strikeouts and no walks.
There are just three National League pitchers who have 14 Ks and no walks the first time through a batting order and the Phillies have two of them in Pivetta and Vince Velasquez. (D-backs lefty Patrick Corbin is the other.)
Make 'em work
Offensively, the Phils couldn't muster much off Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams. They did, however, have five walks and a two-run fifth inning keyed by Pivetta's first career double and RBI.
Through five innings, Williams had thrown 42 strikes and 41 balls. This Phils team really makes pitchers work.
Reliever Tommy Hunter made his Phillies debut after missing the first 20 games with a hamstring injury. He had a quick, impressive eighth inning, retiring the side on just eight pitches with a groundout, popout and strikeout.
Hunter was signed to a two-year, $18 million contract this offseason.
The Phillies are off Monday before beginning a three-game home series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who entered Sunday tied with the Mets for the best record in the NL (14-6).
The pitching matchups for that series:
Tuesday: Vince Velasquez (1-2, 3.80) vs. LHP Robbie Ray (2-0, 4.98)
Wednesday: Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.04) vs. Zack Greinke (2-1, 4,13)
Thursday: Ben Lively (0-1, 4.64) vs. Matt Koch (0-0, 1.13)