Edubray Ramos

Nick Pivetta, bottom of Phillies' order bounce back to beat Orioles

Nick Pivetta, bottom of Phillies' order bounce back to beat Orioles

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BALTIMORE — The first-place Phillies dominated the comically bad Orioles for most of the night Thursday before holding on to survive a 5-4 win.

The Phils had 14 hits and put 16 men on base in the first seven innings.

This was a quick stop in Baltimore to make up the game that was postponed on May 15 following a three-hour rain delay.

The Phillies had no issue with Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, who had a 3.13 ERA in his last six starts and is the only pitcher in Baltimore's rotation having even an OK season. They pounded him for five runs on 12 hits over five innings.

The bottom of the order, in particular, thrived in this game. Scott Kingery and Jorge Alfaro each went 3 for 4.

It was Alfaro's best game of the season. He doubled in two runs with a fly ball over the leftfielder's head in the fourth inning, then homered to center in the sixth. In the AL park, Alfaro batted ninth.

In all, the Phillies' 7-9 hitters reached base in seven of 12 plate appearances.

The Phillies improved to 52-40, a half-game better than the Braves in the NL East. The Orioles are 26-68 and on pace to lose 118 games.

Alfaro's big night
This was, without question, Alfaro's best offensive night of the year. It was on brand, too, with him swinging early and often.

Alfaro's single and homer both came on the first pitch. There is no player in Major League Baseball this season who has swung at a higher percentage of pitches than Alfaro. 

Surrounded by players with good eyes like Cesar Hernandez, Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins, one wonders if Alfaro could someday develop even a little more selectivity. It's never been his M.O., here at the major-league level or at any stop in the minors.

"You can set aside plate discipline if you're really accurate with the barrel," manager Gabe Kapler said after the win. "The one thing we know for sure is that Alfie can hit the ball hard. When he puts the ball in play, he smokes it. So if we see a little bit more contact, I think he's a productive offensive player. At times, in stretches this season, he's not just been productive but he's helped us win baseball games with his bat. We know it's in there."

Pivetta bounces back
After pitching more than five innings just once in his last nine starts and posting a 6.63 ERA over that span, Nick Pivetta took the Phillies into the seventh in this one.

He allowed three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over 6⅔ innings. Pivetta was one out away from finishing seven innings when Trey Mancini got him for a two-run homer.

This was an important start for Pivetta, who lately had been the weakest link in the Phillies' rotation. He needs to continue pitching well with Enyel De Los Santos on his heels as well as the (thin) possibility of a trade for a starting pitcher this month.

"We really needed this from Nick," Kapler said. "Staying composed when things don't go exactly his way. Not only did he stay composed in those moments but it's like he elevated his game, made better pitches, had more life on his fastball through the zone."

In 19 starts, Pivetta is 6-7 with a 4.58 ERA. He's struck out 113 and walked 30 in 96 1/3 innings.

Kingery coming on
Kingery has three three-hit games in his last 13 after having none in his first 75.

He's hit .306 over his last nine games and .271 over the last calendar month.

He's still not where he wants to be, and he's still chasing pitches at a high rate, but this represents at least some progress for the rookie shortstop.

Kingery did also commit his ninth error of the season on a throw to Hernandez trying to begin a double play. He made a nice play ranging to his right on a Mark Trumbo groundball but just tried to be too speedy instead of making sure he got one out.

The Phillies actually made two errors in that second inning but Pivetta stranded both. 

"Our defense in that second inning kind of let us down," said Kapler, who usually avoids making such comments. "And in those moments, Nick stepped up. He didn't carry one pitch or one play over to the next. Rather, he continued to step on it."

Too close for comfort
Tommy Hunter allowed a solo home run to Jace Peterson on the very first pitch he threw. Over his last 11 innings, Hunter has allowed eight runs, two homers and 20 base runners. His opponents have hit .348.

On the season, Hunter has a 4.80 ERA and has allowed at least one run in 12 of his 35 appearances.

Fortunately for the Phillies, Edubray Ramos, Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez combined for a scoreless eighth and ninth to preserve the one-run lead.

Dominguez pitched a perfect ninth for his ninth save in 10 chances.

Up next
The Phillies will be in their third city in as many days Friday when they open a three-game series in Miami.

Friday at 7:10 — Jake Arrieta (6-6, 3.47) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-6, 6.14)

Saturday at 4:10 — Aaron Nola (12-2, 2.27) vs. Trevor Richards (2-5, 5.24)

Sunday at 1:10 — Zach Eflin (7-2, 3.15) vs. Jose Ureña (2-9, 4.13).

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Offense backs Enyel De Los Santos' solid debut in Phillies' win over Mets

Offense backs Enyel De Los Santos' solid debut in Phillies' win over Mets

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NEW YORK — The bottom of the Phillies’ batting order came through in a big way Tuesday night.

Maikel Franco, hitting in the No. 8 spot, drove in four runs with a three-run homer and an RBI single to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The Phillies’ No. 9 hitter also had a big night, though not with the bat.

Enyel De Los Santos earned the pitching victory in his major-league debut. The 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic delivered 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. He gave up five hits, including a pair of triples and a double, walked three and struck out six. His fastball averaged 93 mph and topped out at 97.

De Los Santos was acquired in the December trade that sent shortstop Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres. He had been called up from Triple A Lehigh Valley earlier in the day to make a spot start as the Phillies needed an extra arm after playing a doubleheader on Monday.

De Los Santos was 9-3 with a 1.89 ERA in 16 starts at Lehigh Valley before his promotion. He was sent right back to Triple A as the Phillies needed to make room for Vince Velasquez to come off the disabled list and pitch on Wednesday night. But De Los Santos will leave having made a good impression and is just a phone call away should a need arise. Had the Phillies not needed De Los Santos in this game, he would have pitched in the Triple A All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

The Phillies entered the game tied for first place in the NL East with Atlanta. The victory was the Phillies’ 10th in the last 13 games and improved them to 51-39 while the Mets sagged to 36-53. And that after an 11-1 start.

Franco continued to swing a hot bat even as he remains firmly on the trading block. Manager Gabe Kapler dropped him to the eighth spot in the batting order eight games ago. Since then, Franco is 11 for 25 with a double, two homers, three walks and seven RBIs.

The Mets also used a pitcher making his major-league debut. Franco welcomed Drew Gagnon to the majors with a three-run homer in the second inning. Franco did a good job staying back on a hanging, 80-mph curveball. In the sixth inning, Franco stroked an RBI single up the middle. In between, the Phillies got a two-run single from Nick Williams in the third and a solo home run from Odubel Herrera — his career-high 16th — in the fifth.

Williams had three hits and is 9 for 22 in six games on the road trip.

There was a scary moment in the bottom of the third inning when Rhys Hoskins ran face-first into the left-field wall trying to make a play on what ended up as a triple by Amed Rosario. Hoskins went down in a heap and Kapler and athletic trainer Scott Sheridan ran out to tend to him. But Hoskins quickly sent them back to the dugout. He gave the bench a thumbs-up and stayed in the game.

Hoskins had three singles in the game. The Phillies out-hit the Mets, 13-7.

The Phillies added veteran Trevor Plouffe from Triple A before the game and he contributed a pinch-hit single in the eighth.

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Hector Neris returns to Phillies sooner than expected; Pat Neshek close

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Hector Neris returns to Phillies sooner than expected; Pat Neshek close

The Phillies would like to have seen Hector Neris' remedial assignment to Triple A last a little longer, but …

Edubray Ramos was placed on the disabled list with an impingement in his right shoulder Monday afternoon, so Neris is back just a week after being sent out to clear his head, build some confidence and rediscover command of his splitter.

Neris made just two appearances for Lehigh Valley. In two innings of work, he did not allow a hit. He walked one and struck out two.

Neris returns to the big leagues just in time for the Phillies' three-game series against the 50-win New York Yankees.

"He did have an opportunity to work with (pitching coach) Dave Lundquist down there, and Lundy reported some improvements in the delivery," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We watched his last outing. His fastball looked relatively sharp and his split was good, as well. Does that translate to a whole bunch of success at the major league level? We'll have to wait and see. But certainly, it's encouraging. Ideally, you have a chance to let these things play out, but given the fact that we're playing the Yankees, it's nice to have Hector back."

Neris had been sent down after recording a 6.00 ERA in his first 30 appearances. He gave up 31 hits, including eight homers, in that span.

Ramos last pitched in Sunday night's 8-6 loss at Washington. The Phillies blew a 6-2 lead in that game. Though much of the attention was placed on the Phillies' bullpen not getting the job done in the eighth inning, the Nationals' comeback started in the sixth with three runs, two of which were charged to Ramos.

"He just didn't feel 100 percent last night," Kapler said. "This is very much precautionary, keeping in mind that we want him healthy for the long haul. He actually said that he could pitch if we needed him to, but it didn't seem like the right thing to do for him."

The Phils are getting close to adding two relievers from the disabled list. Luis Garcia is close to being ready. He is on the DL with a sore wrist.

Pat Neshek, who pitched Saturday in Clearwater, will make another rehab outing Tuesday night with Double A Reading. He has not pitched this season because of shoulder and forearm injuries.

Neshek believes he is close to being ready, but he could not pinpoint a return date.

"It's going to be more about how my rhythm is, how my stamina is," the 37-year-old right-hander said. "I felt really good arm-wise but when you come in, you get into a routine and I need to get into that routine again. It might be one more, it might be a couple more, it might be four more.

"I had tears in my arm. It's a process. Before when I had tears in my shoulder, I ended up tearing that trying to rush and come back quick. I want to get back here as soon as I can."

Neshek believes he will help the Phillies' beleaguered bullpen. He figures to work as a setup man, but is open to any role.

"Plug and play, man," he said. "For me, it's never mattered to me what I do. I'll do whatever the manager needs me to do. I've always done that."

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