MIAMI — The Phillies rebounded from a horrendous loss the night before and beat the troublesome Miami Marlins, 9-3, on Saturday night.
Zach Eflin delivered a strong start and Scott Kingery and Corey Dickerson keyed the offense.
The Phillies blew a 7-0 lead in losing the series opener by a score of 19-11 on Friday night.
The Phillies entered Saturday 2 ½ games back in the NL wild-card chase. The win left the Phillies at 67-61. They are 7-8 against the Marlins this season.
The change in approach
Eflin had a terrible month of July and ended up being demoted to the bullpen. He returned to the rotation last week with a renewed commitment to throwing his sinker, or two-seam fastball, the pitch that got him to the majors. His use of the pitch had dropped because team officials had urged him to throw his four-seam fastball up in the zone to counteract hitters looking to launch.
Eflin threw 37 percent sinkers in his last start. That percentage jumped to 47 percent (37 of 79 pitches) in this outing. Eflin got 10 outs on the ground on his way to six innings of two-run ball.
The right-hander struck out just two, but he made it clear after his last start that he would prioritize outs over strikeouts and early contact over swings and misses. He did not walk a batter in his six innings of work.
Dickerson had a pair of doubles and five RBIs. In four games on the trip, he has five hits, including four for extra bases, and nine RBIs.
Kingery keyed the Phillies’ six-run fourth inning with a three-run homer.
Miami’s ugly inning
The Phillies had an ugly inning Friday night.
The Marlins had one in this game.
Starter Jordan Yamamoto and reliever Tyler Kinley combined to allow five hits, four walks and six runs in the top of the fourth inning.
The ineffective duo combined to throw an absurd 62 pitches in the frame, the most in any half-inning in the majors this season.
The Marlins walked 10 batters in the game. On Friday night, they walked 10 batters and gave up 11 hits. That was another reason the Phillies’ 19-11 loss was so galling on Friday night. The Marlins tried to give the Phillies the game and the Phils could not take it.
With Bryce Harper out on paternity leave, the Phillies have had to move Adam Haseley from center field to right field and Kingery from third base to center field. That has compromised the defense at third base in this series. Between them, Brad Miller and Maikel Franco accounted for four misplays at third base in Friday night’s game. Miller failed to make a play on one and Franco had a tough time on three balls, including one that was ruled an error and ultimately led to four unearned runs in the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the first inning Saturday night, Miller failed to make a play on a ball that was ruled an infield hit but could easily have been scored an error. That eventually became a run charged to Eflin.
Harper is expected to return to action Monday night at home.
Look in the mirror
The Phillies sent pitcher Nick Pivetta to the minors. Manager Gabe Kapler said the right-hander needed to be more accountable (see story).
The Phillies will look to win the series behind ace Aaron Nola (12-3, 3.51) on Sunday afternoon. Nola has faced the Marlins twice this season and given up just two earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He has a 3.23 ERA in 12 career starts against the Marlins.
Four games into this five-game trip, the Phillies are 3-1. As bad as Friday night’s loss was, this still could end up being a good trip if the Phils take care of business Sunday.
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