No Rhys Hoskins, no Didi Gregorius, no Andrew McCutchen, and the Phillies keep on winning.
The Phils beat the Mets 5-3 on Saturday to extend their win streak to seven games, their longest since 2012.
They’ve taken this important series against a scuffling team, moving 1½ games ahead of the Mets and two ahead of the Braves.
Things got hairy late when reliever Mauricio Llovera came into a five-run game in the ninth inning and allowed back-to-back-to-back home runs to Michael Conforto, Jonathan Villar and James McCann. It's only the second time in recorded history a Phillies pitcher has allowed at least three home runs without getting an out. B.J. Rosenberg did it in 2014. Ian Kennedy came in and put two men on base but closed out the win.
At 58-53, the Phillies are a season-high five games over .500.
Saturday’s game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Brad Miller launched a 437-foot solo home run and Odubel Herrera broke it open with a three-run shot to the second deck in right field. It whipped the crowd of nearly 40,000 into a frenzy.
Herrera also made an important and challenging defensive play to end the sixth -- a running, leaping catch at the wall in left.
"It's come from so many different guys," manager Joe Girardi said. "Today, it was Odubel and Miller, and the job that (reliever JD) Hammer did was incredible. It's taken a lot of different people and these guys are stepping up."
Miller homered again in the eighth inning, his 12th of the season. He was at first base for Hoskins, who has started just three of the Phillies’ last nine games because of a groin injury. Gregorius was out after being hit by a pitch Friday on the elbow he injured earlier in the season. McCutchen is out with knee soreness but could be back as soon as Wednesday.
Winning nullifies many subplots. If the Phillies hadn’t won seven in a row, there would be more talk about the injuries, Alec Bohm's defense (three errors in the series) and Kennedy’s shaky start to his Phillies tenure.
But they keep winning. Bryce Harper has carried the Phillies this week but is far from the only one producing. The setup men -- particularly Hector Neris and Archie Bradley -- have been at their best since the Fourth of July. Neris pitched two scoreless innings Saturday and has had scoreless appearances in 13 of his last 14, while Bradley has allowed no earned runs in 15 of his last 16.
“Hector is so loved in that clubhouse,” Girardi said. “This is a guy that has a smile every day. He’s just really important to not only our staff but to our clubhouse."
The Phillies are hoping they didn't lose another player Saturday. Jean Segura was hit in the face by a 90 mph changeup. He turned his face and it caught him on the lip and finger as he tried to block it. Segura stayed in the game after spending a few minutes on the ground collecting himself, then was removed the next half-inning as part of a double-switch.
X-rays on Segura were negative. Girardi said after the game that his face was fine and he was not overly concerned. His status for Sunday will be determined by how his finger is in the morning.
Hammer was a big contributor in Saturday’s win, serving as the bridge between starter Ranger Suarez and the back of the bullpen. Hammer pitched 2⅓ scoreless innings, struck out three and got the win.
Making his second start of the season, Suarez threw 27 pitches in the first inning and 61 total, lasting only 2⅔ innings. He was on a limit of about 60 pitches. He did not allow a hit or run but walked three and was squeezed by home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, who missed strikes on both sides all day. After the game, Suarez said that thinking about his 60-pitch limit affected his gameplan.
Suarez struck out four. His ERA is down to 0.98, the lowest by a Phillie with at least 45 innings this late in the season in at least 110 years. He built up from 33 pitches in his first start to 61 and it stands to reason that his next one could be 75 to 85 pitches against the Reds at home on Friday.
The Phillies go for a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon with their ace, Zack Wheeler on the mound. Wheeler is as mild-mannered as they come but would like nothing better than to contribute to his former team’s swoon.
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