MIAMI — It was revenge for Nick Pivetta, who lasted just four outs the last time he faced the Miami Marlins.
It was redemption for Maikel Franco, who had stranded four runners in a pair of two-out at-bats.
And it was sweet relief for Jorge Alfaro, Andres Blanco and Hector Neris, three of the heroes of a ninth inning that saw the Phillies turn an apparent loss against a pitcher making his major-league debut into a rousing 2-1 comeback win on the road (see observations).
Let’s start with the starter, Pivetta, who left with a no-decision, yes, but with his pride intact.
In two previous starts against Miami, Pivetta was 1-1 but with an ugly 12.15 ERA. On Friday, he pitched six innings, struck out six, allowed four hits and just one run — on a wild pitch.
He had a respectable 4.73 ERA in the first half of this season. But entering Friday, he had a 9.22 ERA in the second half.
“The work I’m doing is coming together,” said Pivetta, a rookie with a 5-9 record and a 6.28 ERA. “I had a rough August, but I’m looking forward to [a better] September and finishing strong.”
Franco’s night was interesting.
The Phillies had very little in terms of a scouting report to go on against rookie lefty Dillon Peters, who stepped on a big-league mound for the first time on Friday.
Threats of two men on base were mounted in the first and sixth innings. But Franco squashed both of those opportunities, striking out swinging in the first and grounding into a force play in the sixth. On the latter play, another Marlins player making his big-league debut, Brian Anderson, made a diving stop.
But in the ninth, Franco got his first hit of the game, a leadoff double to the left-field corner, and that set the Phillies up for victory.
Franco moved up to third on a grounder by Nick Williams and scored when Alfaro singled softly to right.
“I was trying to put the ball in play,” Alfaro said. “I wasn’t as anxious as earlier in the game.”
The game-winning RBI wasn’t hit that hard, either. With runners on the corners and one out, Blanco grounded out to second baseman Dee Gordon. But Blanco gave it all he had to first base, avoiding a double play.
“That’s how you create a run and win a ballgame,” Blanco said. “Everybody was doing the little things, and I didn’t want to be left behind. I wanted to do something too.“
Neris pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 18th save of the season, but it wasn’t that easy, especially that last out.
Christian Yelich hit what should’ve been a fairly easy comebacker. However, Neris bobbled the ball and threw wildly to first, where Blanco stretched out for a great grab.
It was ironic that Neris, who specializes in saves, needed a save from his teammate, but that’s exactly how it went down.
“I didn’t expect a good throw,” Blanco told CSN’s Gregg Murphy. “I knew something crazy was going to happen. He bobbled it so many times. … But we made it.”