Schwarber’s 20th homer propels Phillies to 3-2 victory over the A’s, series sweep
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kyle Schwarber opened the game with his 20th home run and added an RBI single among his three hits to lead the sizzling Philadelphia Phillies to a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
The Phillies swept the three-game series and have won six in a row. The A’s lost their fifth in a row after a six-game win streak and were swept in a series for the 10th time this year.
Former Athletic Cristian Pache doubled twice and scored two runs for the Phillies. Aledmys Diaz homered for the A’s against reliever Matt Strahm. Oakland scored another run in the eighth off Jose Alvarado before Yunior Marte struck out the side in the ninth and recorded his first career save. Craig Kimbrel was not available after pitching in three of the four previous games.
Zack Wheeler (6-4) pitched six shutout innings to continue a dominating run by the rotation that has fueled the team’s run of 13 wins in the past 15 games. In that span the starters have a 1.74 ERA with three homers, all allowed by Aaron Nola.
The run also began a day after Phillies manager Rob Thomson moved Schwarber from the fifth spot in the order to leadoff hoping the designated hitter could escape a season-long slump and spark the team as he did last season from that spot.
Schwarber had 13 homers in his first 56 games but was hitting .160 when Thomson made the change. In 16 games at leadoff Schwarber is batting .270 with a 1.061 OPS. He hit his seventh homer of the span on the game’s fourth pitch, from rookie left-hander Hogan Harris, to left field, for a 409-footer the opposite way.
Thomson said that kind of start can have an effect on both teams.
“It just brings energy into our dugout and puts the other guys on their heels a little bit,” Thomson said. “I think there’s a fear factor there when he steps to the plate, first hitter of the game, and puts the other team on guard.”
Schwarber said he doesn’t have a dramatic answer to why he started surging when he changed positions in the lineup.
“I wish I didn’t start slow, but that’s just the reality of it,” he said. “I think it’s just the continuous work you put in each and every day to be prepared. I’m a big believer that hitting is a feeling. You can do all the mechanical things, but you also have to go out there and be ready to compete when the game starts.”
Harris buckled down after allowing the homer, keeping the Phillies off the board again until the fifth, when Pache hit a two-out double. Schwarber dropped a well-placed single down the right-field line to score Pache. Harris (2-1) took his first big-league loss.
Pache hit another double in the eighth inning, against Shintaro Fujinami, and scored on a Trea Turner single that gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead. The A’s trimmed it to 3-2 in the bottom half when pinch-hitter Esteury Ruiz doubled and Carlos Perez also came off the bench and hit an RBI single.
A’s manager Mark Kotsay did not sound down after his young team was swept, saying, “We really had a chance to win all three games against a contending team. They were in the World Series last year.”
Father’s Day and an aloha shirt giveaway helped the A’s draw 24,326 fans to the Coliseum, their third-largest home crowd this season. They have averaged just under 10,000 per game.
Phillies: Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez had some residual swelling in his left wrist a day after being hit by a Ruiz comebacker in the fourth inning of Saturday’s 4-2, 12-inning victory. Thomson said X-rays were negative and he expects Sanchez to take his next turn Friday night against the Mets.
Phillies starter Ranger Suarez (1-2), who has a 0.90 ERA in three June starts, faces the visiting Braves in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday night. Also Tuesday, the A’s open a three-game series in Cleveland behind right-hander Luis Medina (1-6).