LOS ANGELES — Another pitcher was down and the offense was doing absolutely nothing.
It was the top of the seventh inning, a not-so-easy West Coast trip was winding down, and the Phillies were looking at a miserable cross-country flight home.
Then Freddy Galvis and Ryan Howard made everything better.
After being pounded the previous two nights by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies rallied to win the series finale Wednesday afternoon, 6-2, on the strength of big hits by Galvis and Howard (see Instant Replay).
Galvis rescued the Phillies from 1-0 deficit with a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning and Howard came off the bench with a bases-loaded, three-run, pinch-hit double in the ninth to put the game away.
Suddenly five hours on an airplane didn’t sound so bad.
“It makes for a happy flight,” Howard said of the win, which gave the Phils a 3-3 trip that included a stop in San Diego.
The Dodgers teed off on the fastballs of young pitchers Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez in the first two games of the series. The Dodgers had 15 extra-base hits, including seven homers, and outscored the Phillies, 18-7, in the first two games.
The Phils found a way to take the sting out of the Dodgers’ bats Wednesday and it started with Jeremy Hellickson. The veteran right-hander was masterful in changing speeds, “going soft against a good fastball-hitting team,” he said. That's what manager Pete Mackanin said he did not see enough of from Velasquez on Tuesday (see story).
“That’s a tough offense,” Mackanin said of the Dodgers. “I’m just glad we kept them in the ballpark. We held them down finally.”
Hellickson survived three hits, a walk and a run in the first inning and reeled off four straight 1-2-3 innings before feeling a twinge in his back while pitching to Chase Utley in the fifth. The right-hander walked gingerly off the mound after the inning.
Hellickson wanted to stay in the game, but Mackanin removed him as a precaution.
After the game, Hellickson said he simply felt some tightness in the lower right side of his back. He expected to feel a little sore on Thursday but, with two off days before his next start, said he expected to pitch Wednesday. That was good news for the Phillies, who in the past eight days have placed Eflin and Aaron Nola on the disabled list (see story).
“We were worried,” Mackanin said. “Obviously we can’t afford to lose another starter. I’m happy to hear it’s just tightness.
“He told me he wanted to go back out there, but he was grimacing so I wasn’t taking any chances.”
“It’s probably a good thing he didn’t let me go back out,” Hellickson said. “It’ll probably be sore for a couple of days, but I don’t think it will be any longer than that.”
Galvis’ homer came off rookie lefty Grant Dayton after starter Scott Kazmir allowed Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Paredes, the first two batters in the seventh, to reach on a hit and a walk, respectively. It was his first homer from the right side of the plate …
“In two years,” Galvis said after the game.
“I've been trying to put my swing together from the right side and it’s felt better the last two weeks. I’m trying to stay back, don’t reach on the breaking ball and it’s working.”
Galvis has a career-high 11 homers to go with 45 RBIs, five shy of his career high. His 12 stolen bases are the most in his career and he’s played outstanding defense. In fact, he made a tremendous play to help preserve a one-run lead in the eighth Wednesday. But Galvis’ batting average is just .231 and his on-base percentage is .261. It’s going to take a lot more than that to hold off shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford.
Galvis was asked if he’s been following Crawford’s progress in the minors.
“No,” he said with a grin. “I follow my daughter.”
Galvis could end up at second base when Crawford arrives. Or Cesar Hernandez could play there. That will play out eventually.
Hector Neris got four important outs with a one-run lead and Howard gave the Phils some insurance with a bases-clearing double in the ninth against hard-throwing Kenley Jansen.
“Big home run by Freddy and a big hit by Howard,” Mackanin said. “We didn’t get a whole lot in between.”
But those two big three-run hits were enough to avoid another loss. The Phils escaped Dodger Stadium with one win.