Phillies

Giants 3, Phillies 1: Offense goes limp again, this time against Jeff Samardzija

Giants 3, Phillies 1: Offense goes limp again, this time against Jeff Samardzija

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Phillies' bats shriveled again on Saturday.

The team was held to three hits in a 3-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 60-57 and had them in jeopardy of falling into fourth place in the NL East, depending on the outcome of the Mets-Nationals game Saturday night. This team led the division by 3½ games on May 29. It is 27-35 since then.

The Phillies are 2-4 on the road trip, which concludes on Sunday night.

Two days after being one-hit by the Giants in the first game of the series, the Phillies were manhandled by Jeff Samardzija. He pitched eight walk-free innings and gave up just two hits. He struck out five.

Corey Dickerson homered for the Phillies with two outs in the first inning. Samardzija then retired 20 straight Phillies hitters before Cesar Hernandez blooped a single to left with one out in the eighth. Samardzija then rolled a double-play ball to get out of the inning. The right-hander faced the minimum 22 batters after Dickerson’s homer in the first.

Down two runs, the Phillies made it interesting in the ninth. Sean Rodriguez had the Phillies’ third hit of the game, a broken-bat single to left with one out. Giants closer Will Smith struck out Bryce Harper for the second out. Rhys Hoskins walked to put two runners on base. Smith then struck out Dickerson to end the game.

The Phillies’ dismal three-hit performance came the day after they had 10 hits, including two homers by Harper, in Friday night’s win.

The Phils have scored one or zero runs in three of their four losses on this trip.

Velasquez's night

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez gave up just three hits in five innings of work, but two of them landed in the seats. He hit Scooter Gennett with a pitch to lead off the bottom of the second then tried to get through Evan Longoria with a heavy diet of sliders. Longoria deposited a 2-1 slider in the left field seats for a two-run homer. In the fifth, Velasquez tried to get Kevin Pillar to chase an 0-2 curveball down. The pitch was low and out of the strike zone, but not low enough. Pillar plucked it off his shoe tops and belted it for a solo homer and a 3-1 Giants’ lead.

Velasquez got into more trouble in the inning, but pitched out of it. Manager Gabe Kapler decided not to press his luck and got the teetering pitcher out of there after five.

Velasquez has pitched more than five innings just four times in 15 starts.

Not enough

In six games on this trip, Phillies starters have gone 7, 5, 5, 5, 5 2/3 and 5 innings. That's not enough. Exposes a weak bullpen — though the 'pen has done a good job the last two days.

One-hit wonders

For the second time in three games in this series, the Phillies had just one hit through six innings. At least this one put a run on the board as Dickerson went deep in the first inning. On Thursday night, the Phils had one hit through six and that was a pinch-hit single. They were one-hit that night.

Dating to Wednesday night, the last game in Arizona, the Phillies have been held to one hit through five innings in three of the last four games.

Offensive inconsistency like this makes it difficult to believe this team has a serious run in it.

Dickerson contributes

Dickerson has made a nice contribution since joining the club in a trade deadline deal. He has three homers and eight RBIs in seven games.

Up next

The series concludes on Sunday night at 7 p.m. Jake Arrieta (8-8, 4.41) pitches against lefty Connor Menez (0-1, 5.73).

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Phillies get a handful of clutch performances in beating Dallas Keuchel and keeping season alive

Phillies get a handful of clutch performances in beating Dallas Keuchel and keeping season alive

ATLANTA — The Phillies survived a ninth-inning high-wire act from Hector Nervous, er, Neris and held on for a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on Tuesday night.

With 13 games to go, the Phillies are barely alive in the National League wild-card race.

But they are alive.

“We still have odds and we know that,” Rhys Hoskins said. “Sure we know they may be long and we have a lot of work to do, but we’re still in it and I think getting this win tonight is huge.”

It was a good way to open an 11-game road trip that will take the Phillies to Cleveland and Washington after this three-game stop in Atlanta, where the Braves will wrap up a second straight NL East title any day now.

The Phils would rather the Braves not do that while they are here. That happened last year and it was painful.

The entire ending to last season was painful. The Phils went into the final 14 games of last season with a 76-72 record — the same slate they had going into Tuesday night’s game — and went 4-10 down the stretch to finish under .500 at 80-82.

“Everyone that was part of that last year carries that with them,” Hoskins said. “Nobody wants to go through what we went through last year at the end of the year, nobody likes watching people clinch. I think everybody in the whole league is in the same boat there. But we still have a chance and we know it. It started tonight and we just have to continue it tomorrow.”

At 77-72, the Phillies need five wins to have their first winning season since 2011.

They just need wins to stay in the postseason hunt.

They are four games back in a crowded wild-card race.

Picking up wins against the Braves, Indians and Nationals on this trip will require a lot of clutch work and the Phillies got some of that Tuesday. To wit:

• Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez limited damage and stayed in the game after throwing 30 pitches and allowing two runs in the first inning. He delivered five innings of two-run ball.

• Hoskins and Jose Pirela both clubbed two-run homers against Keuchel to help the Phils build a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning. Keuchel came into the game on a big roll. He’d won his previous five starts and had given up just four runs in those games. Beating him would not be easy, but the Phils did it. They had to.

• Overall, the bullpen did some clutch work — four innings, two runs — despite allowing a pair of late homers to make it a one-run game. 

Neris gave up a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth as the Braves made it a one-run game. He then issued a walk to Ronald Acuna Jr., who stole second and moved to third on a ground out. Neris then walked dangerous Freddie Freeman to put runners on the corners for cleanup man Josh Donaldson, who has 88 RBIs. As the ballpark rocked and the tomahawk chop chopped, Neris remained cool and struck out Donaldson before getting Nick Markakis on a pop up to end the game.

“To be able to collect himself after walking Freddie and to get a huge second out against Donaldson was, I think, what kind of tipped it back in our favor,” Hoskins said. “Huge props to Hector. We’ve seen him do that a lot. It was cool to see him come out on top.”

Manager Gabe Kapler praised the composure that Velasquez and Neris showed in the first and ninth innings, respectively.

“I think today, the reason we won the game, in addition to Hector’s composure and Vinnie’s composure, is that we were able to put a big inning on the board highlighted by a really good swing by Rhys Hoskins,” Kapler said.

The manager knows making the playoffs is a long shot. He’s not giving in.

“We spent a lot of time today talking about the importance of these last 14 games,” Kapler said. “We know where we are in the standings, we know what the numbers say, but that’s not what we’re paying attention to right now. We’re paying attention to fighting for each other all the way through the finish line.”

The fight continues Wednesday night with Zach Eflin on the mound. Thirteen games to go and the Phils have no margin for error.

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Phillies get to Dallas Keuchel this time around, hold on to win series opener over Braves

Phillies get to Dallas Keuchel this time around, hold on to win series opener over Braves

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ATLANTA — The Phillies kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on Tuesday night.

The Phils got two-run homers from Rhys Hoskins and Jose Pirela — both against Atlanta’s Dallas Keuchel — and Vince Velasquez and the bullpen held the Braves to two runs over the final eight innings. All in all, it was a good way to open an 11-game road trip.

The Phillies’ bullpen survived two late homers as the Braves made it a one-run game.

Hector Neris allowed a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth and got the final two outs of the game with runners on the corners.

The standings

The Phillies entered the night five games out in the NL wild-card race. The victory left them with a chance to pull to within four games of the second wild-card playoff spot depending on the outcome of the Chicago Cubs-Cincinnati Reds game.

The Phils have 13 games left. They are 77-72 overall. They need five wins to have their first winning season since 2011.

Velasquez’ night

Though he lasted only five innings, Velasquez did a pretty good job for the Phillies. He had a tough first inning in which he threw 30 pitches and that prompted early action in the Phillies’ bullpen. But the right-hander maintained his composure and held the Braves to just two runs in the inning. It could have been worse, but Velasquez’ ability to limit damage was huge.

After the first inning, Velasquez racked up four scoreless innings and held the Braves to two hits.

Keuchel’s night

The left-hander who had been passed over by the Phillies earlier in the season came into the game on a big roll — five straight wins in which he’d allowed a total of just four runs.

Keuchel sailed through the first three innings then allowed a pair of infield hits and a pair of two-run homers as the Phillies rallied for five in the fourth inning to take the lead.

Hoskins hits one

There have been times this season when Hoskins has looked pull-happy at the plate. He’s a better hitter when he uses the whole field like he did in the fourth inning when he clubbed a two-run homer to right-center to tie the game at 2-2. It was his 29th homer of the season and first solidly to the opposite field. He had four opposite-field homers last season.

Hoskins did a good job staying back on a high changeup to the outside part of the plate from Keuchel. He hit the ball right where it was pitched. He has homered in back-to-back games and has nine since the All-Star break.

Pirela rewards Kapler

Looking to get right-handed bats in the game against Keuchel, manager Gabe Kapler started Sean Rodriguez at third base and Pirela in left field. (Kapler did not start Maikel Franco at third because he did not believe Franco would fare well against Keuchel’s sinker.) Pirela rewarded his manager’s faith with a two-run homer with two outs in the fourth. He had previously been 0 for 5 with two strikeouts against Keuchel.

Braves set team mark

Adeiny Hechavarria’s home run in the eighth was the Braves’ 236th of the season, a team record.

Phillies pitchers have allowed 238 homers this season. That is a team record. The old one was 221.

Up next

Zach Eflin (8-12, 4.20) opposes right-hander Julio Teheran (10-9, 3.50) on Wednesday night.

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