Pittsburgh Pirates

Phillies lose battle but win war, head to New York armed for doubleheader with Nola and Eflin

Phillies lose battle but win war, head to New York armed for doubleheader with Nola and Eflin

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PITTSBURGH — With a doubleheader to play in New York on Monday and a starting pitcher on the disabled list, the Phillies’ pitching rotation is a jigsaw puzzle this week.

In need of an arm, the club brought up right-hander Drew Anderson from Triple A Lehigh Valley to face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon. Anderson arrived in Pittsburgh at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night and less than 24 hours later was headed back to Lehigh Valley. He was able to give the Phillies five innings in his first big-league start — and that was important as the club plays 11 games in 10 days — but could not produce a victory as the Phils suffered 4-1 loss (see first take).

The Phillies had just four hits on the day. They struck out a dozen times and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Three of those hitless at-bats came after they put runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth inning.

“Drew came up and did a great job for us,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He gave us five strong innings. He gave us a chance to win it. We didn’t score a lot of runs, so that matters. Obviously, the spotlight will be on the start, but it’s not the only thing that happened today.”

Pittsburgh starter Nick Kingham held the Phillies to just a run over six innings. He also contributed a two-run double as the Pirates rallied for three two-out runs against Anderson in the fourth inning.

Anderson was one strike away from getting out of the inning when he threw Kingham a 1-2 slider that hung over the plate. Kingham clubbed it over Rhys Hoskins’ head in left.

“I think if we execute the pitch down and away, it's a strikeout or weak contact,” catcher Andrew Knapp said of the slider to Kingham. “Just left it up in the zone a little bit. He was taking pretty good swings on the heater.”

Kapler had no problem with the pitch call.

“I love an executed slider in that situation,” he said. “For me, it’s mostly about execution of pitches rather than pitch calls, right? Every once in a while, there’s a misguided pitch call, but in this case I think it was just about execution. Drew made a lot of good pitches today, a lot of good fastballs down and away. He had life on his fastball, threw some really cool curveballs that kept them off balance. And this wasn’t his best pitch.”

Anderson confirmed that.

“That one probably is the most upsetting,” he said. “Executing pitches, that’s all it is. That one was not where I wanted it. It kind of just backed up on me.

“I just wanted to battle to save the bullpen and get a win. And then just a couple pitches just happened.”

An injury to Vince Velasquez and Monday’s doubleheader meant the Phillies needed two spot starters this week. Anderson was one, selected largely because he was the only healthy starter on the 40-man roster at Triple A. The Phils will need another starter on Tuesday in New York and prospect Enyel De Los Santos will reportedly fill that spot (see story). The club would first have to put him on the 40-man roster. If De Los Santos does not pitch for the Phils on Tuesday, he will start the Triple A All-Star Game on Wednesday.

“Everybody has been and continues to be in play all the way up to last night, when we selected Anderson,” Kapler said. “De Los Santos is certainly a candidate to start Tuesday’s game.”

Velasquez is expected to come off the disabled list and pitch Wednesday.

The Phils, who despite Sunday’s loss won the series in Pittsburgh and remain tied for first place in the NL East, have arranged their rotation so that their two hottest pitchers, Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin, will pitch Monday’s doubleheader against the Mets.

“Obviously, a series win here is huge,” Knapp said. “We were hoping for a sweep but to win every game except for one against that team is a huge feat for us. I think we're going to take this series win into New York and keep playing good ball.”

And having Nola and Eflin pitch on the same day?

“It's a great opportunity to go in and win two ballgames and kind of show everyone we're really here to stay,” Knapp said. “Those two guys don't need to do anything special. Just keep doing what they've been doing and go from there.”

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A quiet loss, but a successful weekend in Pittsburgh for the Phillies

A quiet loss, but a successful weekend in Pittsburgh for the Phillies

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PITTSBURGH — The Phillies have 28 come-from-behind wins so you could say they had the Pittsburgh Pirates right where they wanted them Sunday afternoon.

Down by three runs, the Phils got the first two runners on base in the top of the sixth inning with the middle of the batting order due up.

The Phils came away with nothing in the inning as Pirates starter Nick Kingham got Carlos Santana to pop up before striking out Nick Williams and Scott Kingery.

And so went the Phillies’ best chance to get something going in what turned out to be a 4-1 loss at PNC Park.

Despite seeing their six-game winning streak come to an end, the Phillies had a pretty successful weekend in Pittsburgh. They won two of three and claimed a share of first place in the NL East as they head to New York for four games with the Mets and a series-opening doubleheader Monday.

Zach Eflin and probable All-Star Aaron Nola will start Monday’s game for the Phillies. On Sunday, the Phillies needed to reach down to Triple A for a starting pitcher. Drew Anderson got the call by virtue of being on the 40-man roster. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed eight hits and four runs over five innings and took a loss in his first major-league start.

Cesar Hernandez was held out of the starting lineup for the second day in a row — he struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth — after taking a foul ball off his right foot Friday night.

Manager Gabe Kapler used catcher Andrew Knapp in the leadoff spot. It was the first time in the live-ball era (starting in 1920) that a Phillies catcher batted leadoff.

Knapp went 0 for 4, but that didn’t make him unique. The Phillies had just four hits on the day. They struck out 12 times and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Their only run came on a 422-foot solo homer from Nick Williams in the fourth.

Kingham, who had been hit hard in his previous start, a loss in Los Angeles, held the Phillies to four hits and a run over six innings of work. He helped his own cause with a two-out, two-run double against Anderson in the fourth inning.

Roster note

To make room for Anderson on the roster, the Phillies sent reliever Yacksel Rios to Triple A.

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Jake Arrieta puts Phillies on cusp of 50th win, eyes NL East title

Jake Arrieta puts Phillies on cusp of 50th win, eyes NL East title

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PITTSBURGH — The Phillies will go for their 50th win of the season on Sunday afternoon.

They didn’t notch their 50th win last season until August 31.

Think about that for a moment.

The Phillies received a strong start from Jake Arrieta, rallied for three two-out runs in the top of the seventh inning and got excellent relief work from Seranthony Dominguez and Victor Arano in beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon (see first take).

It was the Phils’ sixth straight win and eighth in the last nine games as they improved to 49-37. They are 19-7 in one-run games. They are 6-0 against the Pirates this season and tied for the top spot in the National League East with the Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies’ window of contention has opened a year before most folks thought it would and that has left the front office trying to balance the present with the future as it seeks upgrades on the July trade market.

The players are paying attention.

“If you make a really big move you probably have to give up some prospects or maybe a major-league-ready guy that you don’t necessarily want to give up for a chance to maybe have that guy only for a couple of months and then you don’t know if you can sign them in free agency,” Arrieta said. “So it’s a tough decision and that’s why the guys in the front office have to really decide what the priority is.

“But having said that, the team that we have right now is capable of winning the division, there’s no doubt in my mind. We’ve shown flashes of it – a well-rounded starting rotation, a lineup that will scratch and claw for runs and every once in a while we’ll put up 10 or 11 runs. We’re capable of doing it with the group we have here. It wouldn’t surprise me if we did make a move, but how big of a move remains to be seen.”

Arrieta and Carlos Santana were the team’s big moves in the offseason. Both came on free-agent deals and both played significant roles in win No. 49 on Saturday. Arrieta pitched seven innings of two-run ball and kept things close until the offense got over its hangover from Friday night’s 17-5 victory and rallied for three in the seventh.

Santana was on first base via a fielder’s choice with two outs in the top of the seventh. He chugged all the way home with the Phillies’ first run on a triple to right by Nick Williams. Before Williams’ triple, Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon had given up just three singles. After Williams’ triple, Scott Kingery tied the game with a base hit up the middle and Jorge Alfaro followed with a double to the gap to put the Phillies ahead.

The rally could have ended at one run if Williams hadn’t made a twisting, headfirst slide into third to avoid being the third out.

“I don’t know how I did it,” Williams said. “I was just an athlete, I guess. A lot of things I do, I really can’t explain. It’s just a reaction.”

Arrieta had not won a game since May 29 and he entered this one with a 6.16 ERA in his previous six starts. He gave up a run in the first (a wild pitch and an unsuccessful infield shift hurt him there) and a solo homer in the third, but allowed just one base runner the rest of his stay. He put up a shutdown zero in the bottom of the seventh, after his mates gave him the lead.

Seranthony Dominguez got three outs in the eighth and was lifted for a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the ninth. Victor Arano was charged with getting the save and he did, surviving a leadoff double in the process. Over the last five games, the Phillies’ bullpen has allowed just three earned runs in 27 1/3 innings

With the potential tying run on second, Arano got two strikeouts and a fly ball in registering the tough save. He showed a power fastball and slider — and plenty of guts.

“From the get-go, I knew it was going to be a tough inning because it was a save situation,” Arano said with the help of translator Diego Ettedgui. “I knew I had to be really good. That double is part of the game. I was really confident with my pitches. I'm a confident guy. I have belief in my stuff.”

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