Jake Arrieta

Jean Segura hustles when he needs to and that's OK with Jake Arrieta

Jean Segura hustles when he needs to and that's OK with Jake Arrieta

PITTSBURGH — Jean Segura has jogged into the crosshairs of Philadelphia fans a couple of times this season for not hustling down the first base line. One of his infractions was magnified because it came on the play in which the highly respected Andrew McCutchen suffered a season-ending knee injury back in early June.

So it was all a little ironic that Segura helped the Phillies win an important ballgame Friday night in the very ballpark where McCutchen won the 2013 National League MVP award while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Segura beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball in the seventh inning and that set the table for Bryce Harper’s tie-breaking hit in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Pirates.

An inning after extending the seventh for the red-hot Harper — he has five two-hit games and eight RBIs since the All-Star break — Segura entertained everyone in the ballpark with a grueling 13-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off nine pitches. The at-bat ended with his legging out an infield hit with the bases loaded to turn what was a one-run lead into a two-run lead. The Phillies poured it on after that.

After the game, everyone from manager Gabe Kapler to starting pitcher Jake Arrieta was buzzing about Segura’s at-bat and his hustle.

“You can summarize the game by that at-bat, really,” Arrieta said. “Against a bullpen guy (Kyle Crick) that's got a really, really good slider and a mid- to upper-90s fastball.

“Look, Segura strained his hamstring early in the season. He's our everyday shortstop. The hustle thing, I think, is a little overblown because you hit a routine groundball to the infield, guys in the big leagues make that play. So, what's the point of being out by two steps versus three or four steps? That doesn't concern us here. He has the understanding and the awareness to know when to really get after it. That at-bat tonight, that groundball is one of those times. I don't want to see him running 100 percent to first base every time. None of the other guys in here do. But in the right situation, like tonight, he does it and it paid off for us.”

It was pointed out to Arrieta that Philadelphia fans don’t always approve of the type of selective hustle he spoke about.

“But the fans also want him on the field every night so you have to understand the guy at shortstop on the other team is making a ton of money and if the ball's hit to him, he fields it cleanly, he's out,” Arrieta said. “I don't care who's running, if it's Billy Hamilton or Roman Quinn or Scott Kingery. The out is usually made. I think people need to understand that. It might not look great, but big-league shortstops, big-league infielders, they field the ball cleanly and they record the out 99 percent of the time. Segura’s got a really good feel for the game and he knows when he needs to really get after it.”

The Pirates challenged the bang-bang call on Segura’s infield hit in the eighth. He beat it by a hair.

“Segura just grinded and grinded and grinded,” Kapler said. “The hustle was off the charts. Both beating out the double play ball and he broke right out of the box, never hesitated, smelled the hit, gave us everything he had, and beat it out. It was a huge play in the game.”

Segura has been playing in recent days with a bruised left heel.

“I do my best,” he said. “I’m still sore a little bit. At the end of the day, I had to hustle and get down the line because the bases are loaded and we’re up only 2-1 in the eighth inning. That’s huge for us. It got us a couple more runs.

“That’s baseball. You play through injuries. You play through pain. It made me feel even better because I know my teammates are behind me and they see that.”

Arrieta is also playing through some discomfort. Pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow, he was able to give his team 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He lobbied Kapler to stay in the game with the bases loaded and the game tied in the sixth inning. Kapler won the debate, Juan Nicasio doused the threat and Harper gave the Phils the lead in the seventh.

The Phillies are 4-4 since the All-Star break.

The Pirates are 1-6.

The Phillies, still trying to right themselves after six weeks of hell that dropped them from first place to third in the NL East, need to continue to pour it on Saturday night behind Zach Eflin and an offense that is starting to warm again.

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Phillies 6, Pirates 1: Jake Arrieta, Bryce Harper and Jean Segura's hustle lift Phillies to win

Phillies 6, Pirates 1: Jake Arrieta, Bryce Harper and Jean Segura's hustle lift Phillies to win

BOX SCORE 

PITTSBURGH — Bryce Harper had another big hit. Jean Segura had the at-bat of the season. Adam Haseley stood out on both sides of the ball. Jake Arrieta and the bullpen got it done on the mound.

The Phillies made it two wins in a row and improved to 4-4 since the All-Star break with team-effort, 6-1, win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Friday night.

Harper, who tied the game with a hit in the seventh inning of Thursday’s win over the Dodgers, this time had the go-ahead hit with two outs in the seventh.

Harper is heating up. He has had two hits in five of the eight games the Phils have played since the All-Star break. In those eight games, he has four doubles and eight RBIs.

The Phils are 51-47.

The Pirates are 1-6 since the break.

Arrieta’s night

Though he did not pitch deep into the game, Arrieta did a solid job with 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. In two starts since it was confirmed that he is pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow, Arrieta has pitched 10 2/3 innings and allowed just two runs.

Arrieta threw 87 pitches and got just four swinging strikes. He was able to throw his curveball, a pitch that had previously aggravated his elbow, with some success.

Bad clutch early

The Phillies had the bases loaded and one out in the first inning and got nothing. They ran into an out on the bases after a one-out double in the fourth and left runners on the corners in the sixth when Maikel Franco went down on a disputed 0-2 check-swing.

The Phils finally got a big hit with men on base when Harper laced a first-pitch single to left-center with two outs in the seventh to score Brad Miller (one-out pinch-hit single) with the tie-breaking run.

And then in the eighth …

Segura turned in what may have been the Phillies’ best at-bat of the season when he went toe-to-toe with reliever Kyle Crick for 13 pitches — Segura fouled off nine of them — before stroking an RBI infield hit to the right side to give the Phils a 3-1 lead.

Huge out

Manager Gabe Kapler lifted Arrieta for Juan Nicasio with the bases loaded and two outs in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the sixth. Nicasio then retired dangerous Kevin Newman on a bouncer back to the mound to end the Pirates’ threat.

Arrieta had gotten the first two outs of the frame before allowing a walk and a ringing double to Colin Moran. It was a good thing Moran hit the ball hard off the wall — and a good thing centerfielder Scott Kingery made such a quick retrieval of the ball off the wall — because Josh Bell, the runner at first, had to hold at third. Arrieta then intentionally walked the bases full before Kapler went to Nicasio.

An underappreciated pickup

The Phillies swapped relievers and sent Luis Garcia to Anaheim for lefty Jose Alvarez in the offseason. Alvarez has been a nice pickup. He protected a one-run lead with a scoreless frame in the bottom of the seventh. Eleven of his last 12 appearances have been scoreless, including his last seven.

Cole Irvin got the final six outs.

Hey, Haseley

Rookie outfielder Adam Haseley returned for his second stint in the majors six days ago when Sean Rodriguez went on the IL. Haseley, who turned 23 in April, is a developing player who needs to be on the field. The injury to Jay Bruce has allowed him that time in left field.

Haseley had an impressive game on both sides of the ball. He made a nice play in left field to gun down Moran as he tried to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning.

In the fifth inning, he showed off his power with a game-tying solo homer to center. Pirates starter Jordan Lyles challenged Haseley with a 93-mph fastball on an 0-2 count and Haseley crushed it 402 feet for the second homer of his big-league career. He hit his first in Thursday’s win over the Dodgers.

Haseley added an RBI double as the Phils turned it into a rout in the ninth.

Health check

Reliever David Robertson (elbow injury) continues to make progress toward a return. He will face hitters in a live batting practice session in Clearwater on Saturday and then again on Wednesday, if all goes well. The Phils hope to have Robertson for most of the final two months.

Up next

Zach Eflin (7-9, 4.16) will oppose right-hander Joe Musgrove (6-8, 4.31) on Saturday night. Trevor Williams was the Pirates’ scheduled starter, but he has been scratched with what the team called “severe flu-like symptoms.”

Drew Smyly, whose signing will become official Saturday or Sunday, will start for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.

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After pitching through pain in win over Nationals, Jake Arrieta believes 'the group in here can do it' for Phillies

After pitching through pain in win over Nationals, Jake Arrieta believes 'the group in here can do it' for Phillies

Behold the redemptive powers of baseball.

The Phillies got back to work Sunday afternoon, just a few short hours after blowing a late lead and losing to the Washington Nationals the night before. Maikel Franco made a damaging error in the eighth inning of that game and Hector Neris gave up a fatal two-run homer with two outs in the ninth.

This time, Franco and Neris were among the stars of the Phillies’ 4-3 win over the Nationals.

Neris got back on the horse and struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game and Franco delivered a one-out solo homer to left in the bottom of the frame to give the Phils the walk-off win in front of a sellout crowd on Big Piece Day at Citizens Bank Park.

The home run was Franco’s 15th of the season and 100th of his career.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Franco, who has lost his job, regained his job and generally endured a series of ups and downs over the last couple of seasons while never losing his upbeat personality.

Manager Gabe Kapler channeled Burgess Meredith in praising Franco.

“You’re going to get punched and you’re going to fall down and you’re going to hit the mat,” Kapler said. “It’s how quickly you can get back up and how hard you hit back. Mikey had an error that hurt us yesterday. But he bounced back today. He really showed the resilience and toughness we talk about.”

Neris could be added to that list.

Jake Arrieta, too.

The right-hander made his first start since it was confirmed that he has been pitching (poor recently) with a bone spur in his elbow. Arrieta couldn’t say if it was icepick pain or toothache pain, but it hurts. He pitched through the discomfort and gave his team five innings of one-run ball and left with a lead. Ultimately, the Phils will need more than five innings from Arrieta or else it’s going to expose the bullpen. But for a team that desperately needed a win Sunday, Arrieta gave the club something to feel good about.

“I feel like from this point on it’s going to be tough each and every time I go out there, but I can deal with pain and I’m going to do the best I can to continue to go out there and give my team a chance to win every fifth day,” Arrieta said.

Arrieta’s velocity was at 93 mph early in the game and it was down to 91 by the fifth inning. He threw 88 pitches. He is not able to throw many cutters because it hurts his elbow. He believes he can get by with sinkers, curveball and changeups. He did Sunday.

“It’s going to be painful,” Arrieta said. “The good thing is I’m not going to injure it any further. I want to pitch for the guys in this clubhouse.

“To have 40,000 people in the seats and people watching you on TV and a team competing on the other side, I don’t care how painful it is, it’s always fun. 

“I think collectively everyone should realize I’m not 100 percent and I’m OK with that. I’m going to do everything I can do to be as good as I can for our team and help us shrink the margin down the stretch and hopefully get back in the race for winning the division.”

The Phillies have lost miles of ground over the last six weeks, from leading the NL East by 3 ½ games over Atlanta and 10 games over Washington to trailing both. The Phils entered Sunday 8 ½ games out of first place.

The Phils’ slide and struggles led club president Andy MacPhail to say on Friday that the team was more than one piece away from winning a World Series — he is right, by the way — and that would be reflected in the club’s conservative approach to giving up prospects in trades later this month (see story).

Arrieta did not have any qualms with what MacPhail said. He believes he shares a clubhouse with the answers to the Phillies’ problems.

"We need some more out of our starting pitchers collectively, but I believe we can do it,” Arrieta said. “You look at the way we started the season. We were winning a ton of games really consistently. I think the group in here can do it. We just need more productivity out of some of our guys. It’s plain and simple. It’s easy to always look outside for the solution. It might be cliché, but we have the guys here that can continue to win on a consistent basis. We just need to perform and that’s really all there is to it.”

The Phillies’ performance over the last six weeks does not exactly inspire confidence. Neither does the arrival of the mighty Dodgers on Monday night. But at least Sunday was a tiny step in the right direction, a nice respite from some of the dreck the team has provided in recent weeks.

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