BOSTON — This might have been the Phillies’ most important win of the season.
The Phils got a tremendous start from Jake Arrieta and scoreless bullpen work from Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez in earning a tense, 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak — the Phils have not lost five in a row all season — and guaranteed that the team would end a tough six-game road trip in first place in the NL East. In fact, the Phils could wake up Wednesday morning with a 1½ game lead in the division over Atlanta. That is just where the Phillies stood when they departed on the trip, which produced two wins and four losses in Cincinnati and Boston.
The Phillies head into the Wednesday off day at 59-48.
Boston has the majors’ best record at 75-34.
The Phillies’ pitching shined in the two-game series against the Red Sox, baseball’s top offensive team.
Aaron Nola delivered eight innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 loss in 13 innings on Monday night. And Arrieta (9-6) came up huge with seven innings of one-run ball to earn a series split on Tuesday. He allowed six hits, walked none and struck out seven. It was a pretty good present for manager Gabe Kapler on his 43rd birthday.
The Phillies’ pitching had to be stingy because the offense was not good after the first game of the trip. The Phillies scored just 10 runs over the final five games of the trip.
In Tuesday night’s important win, the Phillies scored the game’s first run in the second inning as Maikel Franco drew a one-out walk and scored from first on Jorge Alfaro’s two-out double.
Franco also scored the game’s second run as the Phillies went ahead 2-0 in the fourth inning. He walked again with one out and moved to third on a double by Roman Quinn. Drew Pomeranz then hit Alfaro with a pitch to load the bases. Scott Kingery then came up and lifted a fly ball to medium-depth center field and Franco raced home just ahead of Jackie Bradley’s off-line throw.
The Red Sox sliced the Phillies' lead in half in the sixth inning. Blake Swihart singled against Arrieta and J.D. Martinez doubled. Swihart then scored on a ground ball to third. Arrieta got out of the inning with the lead thanks to rightfielder Nick Williams. He made two nice catches on sinking line drives, the second one on Ian Kinsler for the third out.
The Phils pushed across a huge insurance run in the top of the ninth when Rhys Hoskins doubled and Carlos Santana singled him home.
One night after making a costly base-running blunder and misplaying a ball in center field that cost the Phillies a run in a 2-1 loss, Odubel Herrera was not in the starting lineup.
Was it an instructive move? A punitive move?
Kapler insisted it was neither. He said he planned to give Herrera the day off so he’d have two in a row with Wednesday’s off day in the team’s schedule.
“We planned Odubel's off day a week ago because we wanted to give him back-to-back off days,” Kapler said. “It's going to be a long stretch. We're going to be leaning on him every single day all the way through September and October. It's important to get our guys a blow when we can. Left-hander on the mound, good chance to get Roman Quinn in there. But no, it has absolutely nothing to do with [Monday] night. In fact, I thought Odubel, particularly in his postgame comments, did a really good job of owning what happened [Monday] night. I’m really proud of him.”