ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Phillies’ winning streak stands at five and they are poised for a second straight series sweep.
The Phils, on the strength of a six-run second inning, rolled over the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-4, at Tropicana Field on Saturday night.
Jake Arrieta was the beneficiary of all that run support and earned his first win with the Phillies. He pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and three runs in his second start with his new club. One of the runs was unearned. The right-hander walked two, struck out one and finished with 88 pitches. Arrieta was particularly economical in the first two innings, throwing just eight pitches in each.
Phillies starting pitchers have recorded a stingy 2.69 ERA over the last 10 games.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer was anything but economical early in the game. He needed 55 pitches to get through the first two innings. Archer was ambushed for six runs in the inning and eight in all during four innings of work. He is 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA after four starts this season.
J.P. Crawford was particularly tough on Archer. Hitting in the No. 9 spot, Crawford stroked an RBI double in the second inning and a leadoff homer in the fourth against Archer. The double came on a 2-2 slider; the homer on a 1-2 slider. Archer, obviously, thought he could put away Crawford with that pitch but the rookie shortstop thwarted that idea.
The Phils sent 10 men to the plate in the second inning. Crawford, Nick Williams and Scott Kingery all had doubles in the inning. Crawford’s and Kingery’s drove in runs. Cesar Hernandez, Carlos Santana and Odubel Herrera all drove in runs with singles in the inning. Kingery added a second RBI double in the fifth inning.
The Phillies are 8-5. They have won seven of their last eight games against Miami, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay, three of the worst teams in baseball. Those three clubs entered play Saturday with a combined eight wins and rank in the bottom six in the majors in OPS.
But the Phillies are doing what you're supposed to do to bad teams — beat them.
• Right-handed reliever Victor Arano struck out three of the four batters he faced. He has retired all 16 batters he has faced this season, half on strikeouts.
• Catcher Andrew Knapp, out of the lineup since Tuesday because of a stomach bug, is expected to start Sunday’s series finale. Ben Lively will start for the Phillies.
• Reliever Tommy Hunter, on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, pitched an inning in an extended spring training game Saturday morning in Clearwater. He believes he is ready to go. The team is expected to err on the side of caution and give him one more tune-up before activating him next week.
• Jerad Eickhoff, on the DL with a lat strain, threw lightly off a bullpen mound. He said he feels much better. He needs a full build-up and won’t ready until sometime in May.