After being swept in a three-game series by a team that lost 108 games last season, the last thing the Phillies — or their justifiably impatient fans — needed was another sloppy, late-inning loss on Friday night.
They avoided one when Bryce Harper stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and delivered Roman Quinn from second base to earn a 6-5 win over the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
From poor defense to poor baserunning to hanging off-speed pitches and a blown save by Hector Neris in the top of the ninth, the Phillies did a lot of things wrong in this game.
But they walked off the field after an umpires' review of the final play at the plate with a victory and that eased a lot of tension on a team that had just lost three in a row to Baltimore.
"We went out there and started off this series right," Harper said. "That's a big win for us after the embarrassment we put up against the Baltimore Orioles. That was pretty terrible. So to be able to start this series off against the Mets on the right foot was huge for us."
The win was just the Phils' second in the last seven games. It snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Phils are 6-9 at the quarter-mark of the 60-game sprint.
An intriguing pitching matchup between Jacob deGrom, winner of the last two National League Cy Young Awards, and Spencer Howard, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, did not materialize. DeGrom was scratched with a stiff neck and Howard exited in the fourth inning with a blister on his right middle finger.
Howard gave up back-to-back homers in the third and trailed, 4-2, when he left the game. The Phillies took the lead in the fifth on a three-run homer by — who else? — J.T. Realmuto. He now has eight homers and 20 RBIs.
The Phillies' bullpen, of course, is the worst in the majors. It came into the night with an ERA of 10.13. Asking it to get 17 outs was a tall order, but it did a pretty good job. Jose Alvarez, Blake Parker, Adam Morgan and Tommy Hunter all put up zeroes until Hector Neris blew the save with two outs in the ninth.
The Phillies came back to the dugout after blowing the lead. Harper described the scene.
"I told them, 'Get me up, give me a chance,'" Harper said. "I love those opportunities when I can come through for my team. We never quit. We never die."
Quinn and Andrew McCutchen started the rally off with a pair of hits against Seth Lugo. Harper delivered his game-winning hit to right field with one out. The ball was hard-hit so Michael Conforto had a chance to throw out Quinn. Third base coach Dusty Baker waved his arm and Quinn circled the base with a wide turn. He eluded Wilson Ramos' tag with a nifty headfirst slide.
Players from both teams huddled on the field while the umpires checked the safe call on replay.
Ninety seconds later, the call was verified.
"I was a little worried," Harper said. "But once he said, 'Safe,' everybody was excited and happy. That's one of the weirder walk-offs I've had, for sure."
Girardi said the early sloppiness was "frustrating," but he cited the bullpen — 5⅔ innings, one run — and some good work on defense late in the game as being positives.
"That was a really important win for us," he said.
Neither Girardi nor Howard was alarmed about the 24-year-old pitcher's blister. Howard called the exit "precautionary," and said he expected to make his next start. The Phillies have an off day Monday so they will have some flexibility in giving Howard extra time before that start if need be.
Harper likes what he's seen of Howard so far.
"The stuff is there," he said. "He just needs to hone it, calm it down a little. Long balls happen. He's going to be a dude for us for a long time."
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