Gio Gonzalez

Phillies safe from 100 losses after taking down Nationals

Phillies safe from 100 losses after taking down Nationals

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The 1961 Phillies are safe.

They remain the last Phillies team to reach triple-digit losses.

The 2017 Phillies avoided the ignominy of 100 losses as they rode a pair of big hits by Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp and the excellent bullpen work of Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris to a 4-1 win over the National League East champion Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night (see observations).

Manager Pete Mackanin had recently downplayed avoiding 100 losses as a goal. His focus has been simply on seeing improvement from his young, rebuilding club.

But win No. 63 made Mackanin pretty happy.

"When I said 100 losses didn't matter — I lied," Mackanin said with a laugh. "I admit it. Great win."

The 1961 Phillies, under second-year skipper Gene Mauch, went 47-107.

Rupp had the game's biggest hit, a bullet of a two-run double over the centerfielder's head in the bottom of the third inning. It gave the Phillies and starter Jake Thompson a 3-1 lead. Rhys Hoskins padded the lead with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and the aforementioned quartet of relievers registered nine of 12 outs via the strikeout to close it out.

Rupp was around two years ago when the 2015 Phillies lost 99 games. With four more games left before it's time to go home for the winter, Rupp hopes Tuesday night's win is not this team's last.

"I've already lost 99 one time," said the catcher, who turns 29 on Thursday. "Let's win a couple more."

Not long ago, the Phillies were on a clear path to triple-digit losses. An influx of young talent, led by Hoskins and Nick Williams, and much improved bullpen work have helped the Phillies go 34-37 after the All-Star break, a major improvement after they were 29 games under .500 before the break.

"It's one of those things we know," Rupp said of the specter of 100 losses. "But we come out every day and try to let the results show. There's been a lot of games that we've been right in and the ball hasn't rolled our way, a lot of one-run and two-run losses. One big hit here and there and we flip our record in one-run games. It's not that we’re far away. We've got the players here. We just have to get that big hit."

The Phillies are 21-36 in one-run games.

Rupp's double in the third inning came against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez, who did not pitch up to his 2.68 ERA, which was third best in the NL entering the game. Mackanin said he started Rupp because he had good numbers against the lefty Gonzalez — five hits, including two doubles, in 14 career at-bats.

The Phillies played good defense in this game, particularly J.P. Crawford at third base. He started a big double play behind Thompson in the first inning and later made a diving snare of a 108-mph liner off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. But nothing made Mackanin happier than seeing Joseph and Rupp get their big hits in the third inning.

Joseph and Rupp have lost playing time in recent weeks as management looks at young players. It's unclear where both players fit into the team's future. It's possible both could be with other clubs next season.

But right now, they are Phillies, and their heads are high.

"I was very happy for both of those guys," Mackanin said. "The way they've handled the whole situation — it's a testament to their professionalism."

Rupp has lost time to rookie Jorge Alfaro in recent weeks. Joseph has lost it to Hoskins.

"It's one of those things where when I get my chance, I've got to perform," Rupp said. "It doesn't matter the situation. It doesn't matter who's in there. You get your chance, you need to show them what you can do. It's the situation that we're in. It's no secret when we get our chance, we have to perform."

Rupp and Joseph got their chance Tuesday night.

They performed.

The 1961 Phillies are safe for at least another year.

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

Phillies-Nationals observations: Big 3rd inning in 4-1 win

BOX SCORE

Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp keyed a three-run third inning and the bullpen pitched well in lifting the Phillies to a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.

The win was the lowly Phillies' 63rd against 95 losses and it ensured that the team will not reach the 100-defeat mark. The Phils have not lost 100 games in a season since 1961. Nonetheless, the Phils entered the game tied with San Francisco for having the game's worst record.
 
Joseph and Rupp have each lost playing time recently. Joseph had an RBI single in the third and Rupp scorched a two-run, two-out double over the centerfielder's head.

• Jake Thompson pitched five innings of one-run ball. He pitched 46 1/3 innings in the majors this season and had a 3.88 ERA. For his career, he is at 100 big-league innings. His ERA is 4.86.

• Washington starter Gio Gonzalez entered the game with the third-best ERA in the National League at 2.68. He allowed five hits and three runs over five innings. He struck out seven but walked five. Two of those walks became runs. Gonzalez will need to be better when the postseason starts next week.

• Washington star Bryce Harper returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a hyperextended left knee on Aug. 12. He was hitless with a walk in three at-bats. Harper is basically trying to get his timing back for the postseason.

• Pitch efficiency was seriously lacking early in the game as Thompson and Gonzalez combined to throw 96 pitches in the first two innings. Thompson threw 29 strikes and 18 balls in the first two innings. Gonzalez threw 25 strikes and 24 balls in the first two innings and reached 100 pitches with one out in the fifth inning.

• J.P. Crawford continued to get work at third base. His actions and first-step quickness at the position are excellent. He made a quick-reaction diving stab on a liner from Ryan Zimmerman in the sixth inning. That ball came off Zimmerman's bat at 108 mph.

• Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan, Luis Garcia and Hector Neris combined on four shutout innings — and nine strikeouts — out of the bullpen. Morgan has given up just two runs in his last 25 innings. Neris has converted 19 straight save chances.

• Odubel Herrera's first two at-bats against Gonzalez were not pretty. He struck out swinging at a pitch up and out of the strike zone in the second inning and popped weakly to short with men on base in the fourth. He got out in front of a Gonzalez curveball and popped to center in the fifth. In the eighth, he fanned against reliever Austin Adams.

• Smart play by Freddy Galvis taking an extra base on Nats first baseman Zimmerman on a groundout in the seventh. Zimmerman has trouble throwing the ball, hence his position move from third base to first. Galvis knew this, alertly took advantage of it and it resulted in a run on a sacrifice fly by Rhys Hoskins.

• Hoskins entered the game in an 0-for-10 funk (5 for 37 overall) and struck out on curveballs from Gonzalez in his first two at-bats. He rebounded to draw a walk in the fifth and had an important sacrifice fly in the seventh.

• Mark Leiter Jr. (3-6, 4.69) pitches against Washington's Tanner Roark (13-10, 4.41) in the series finale on Wednesday night.

Best of MLB: White Sox lose Yoan Moncada to injury before rallying for win

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Best of MLB: White Sox lose Yoan Moncada to injury before rallying for win

CHICAGO -- Matt Davidson singled in Leury Garcia with two outs in the ninth inning for his second game-ending hit in as many days, and the Chicago White Sox rallied to beat Toronto Blue Jays 7-6 on Monday night after losing top prospect Yoan Moncada to a right knee injury.

Adam Engel sparked the winning rally with a one-out single against Roberto Osuna (3-2). Garcia then was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second.

After Tyler Saladino struck out swinging, Jose Abreu tied it at 6 with a single to right. Davidson followed with another base hit, and then was mobbed by his teammates as he ran around the infield.

The White Sox trailed 6-1 before they scored four times in the eighth, capped by consecutive homers for Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez. Davidson also hit a game-ending, two-run homer in Sunday's 3-1 victory over Cleveland (see full recap).

Gonzalez takes no-hit bid into 9th inning of shutout
MIAMI -- Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez lost his no-hit bid in the ninth inning when Dee Gordon led off with a clean single, and the Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 1-0 Monday night.

Gonzalez was pulled after Gordon hit a soft liner the opposite way to left-center field. He threw 106 pitches.

Gonzalez (9-5), who grew up in nearby Hialeah, walked three, hit a batter and struck out five. He retired 14 in a row during one stretch.

Sean Doolittle relieved and got NL home run leader Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a double play. After Christian Yelich beat out an infield single, Marcell Ozuna popped out, giving Doolittle his fourth save since being acquired from Oakland and seventh this season.

The game was the Nationals' first at Marlins Park since ace Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the eighth but lost on June 21. There has been only one no-hitter in the majors this year -- Miami's Edinson Volquez threw it at this ballpark last month against Arizona.

Jose Urena (9-5) matched zeroes with Gonzalez until the sixth, when Bryce Harper's RBI single put the Nationals ahead. Urena allowed just three hits in eight innings (see full recap).

Dever’s 4 hits back Fister in Red Sox win
BOSTON  -- Doug Fister took a shutout into the eighth inning, rookie Rafael Devers went 4 for 4 and drove in a run and the Boston Red Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 6-2 on Monday night.

Mookie Betts stopped his mini-slump by driving in three runs with two singles, and Eduardo Nunez added three hits and two RBIs for the Red Sox, who won for the third time in nine games.

Bradley Zimmer hit a two-run homer for AL Central-leading Cleveland, which lost its second straight after a season-high nine-game winning streak.

Fister (1-5), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on June 23, was pulled after giving up Zimmer's homer with two outs in the eighth. He allowed two runs and five hits, walking two and striking out five.

Brandon Workman got the final four outs.

Mike Clevinger (5-4) gave up five runs on seven hits in three innings (see full recap).