A big win for the Phillies and a big steak for Rhys Hoskins

A big win for the Phillies and a big steak for Rhys Hoskins

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NEW YORK — Steak? Lobster? Or perhaps a good ol’ juicy burger drippin’ with cheese and all the fixin’s?

Whatever Rhys Hoskins wants, he gets.

So says Aaron Nola.

“I’m buying him dinner tomorrow,” Nola said.

Hoskins clubbed a tie-breaking, solo home run in the top of the eighth inning to lift Nola and the Phillies to an important 4-3 win over the New York Mets in the opener of a three-game series Friday night at Citi Field (see first take).

The home run defined what baseball players call “picking each other up.” Because a half-inning earlier, Nola had given up a solo homer to Dominic Smith that tied the game at 3-3. The home run came on Nola’s 95th pitch and he was looking at a no-decision until Hoskins picked him up in the eighth and ensured the Cy Young candidate's 16th win.

“The guys put up some runs, helped me out,” Nola said. “I gave up three runs. They played great defense behind me. Hoskins' homer was really the icing on the cake.”

The victory was big because it ensured that the Phillies would at least keep pace with first-place Atlanta in the NL East. The Phils left the night 2½ games behind the Braves, who lost, 5-3, to the Diamondbacks in Arizona. The Phils have 22 games left.

“Getting the first one in the series is big, especially on the road,” Hoskins said. “I think I've talked about that throughout the whole year, how it's hard playing on the road. To get the first one, we're pretty confident in the couple of guys (Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez) that are going the next two days, and hopefully, we can kind of ride the momentum of this type of win throughout the rest of the weekend and back home.”

Hoskins’ tie-breaking homer, his team-leading 28th, came on a 1-2 fastball from Tyler Bashlor. Hoskins had been down 0-2 in the count before turning on 97-mph heat. Hoskins had been in an 0-for-14 skid before the home run and he was just 2 for his previous 30.

“Rhys’ homer was huge,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Man, was that enormous. We needed it from him. He needed it for himself. And that’s not to say we don’t have the utmost confidence in him. He is the guy that we absolutely know is going to hit. It injected a lot of life and enthusiasm into the dugout when that happened. The guys were really excited.

“I think it was a special moment for Nola to see that happen and get him the win. Cy Young race, the whole drama of everything that’s going on, a game in a playoff chase with so much on the line — huge for Rhys and obviously huge for Nola and all of us collectively.”

There were other stars in addition to Hoskins and Nola in a game the Phillies had to win.

Seranthony Dominguez and Tommy Hunter delivered shutdown relief to protect a one-run lead in the eighth and ninth innings.

Odubel Herrera came up pretty big with a pinch-hit double that led to a run on a hit by Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth.

And Carlos Santana continued to swing a hot bat in the season’s biggest games.

Santana capped a 10-pitch at-bat in the third inning with a two-run homer against Steven Matz to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

Though he is hitting just .228, Santana has 22 homers and 81 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .350. He has five homers and 14 RBIs in his last 17 games. He is 12 for 36 (.333) in his last nine games.

“Carlos has been impacting the ball all year,” Kapler said. “They haven’t all fallen. He hasn’t always been able to get them into the seats. But he’s driven the ball. So we never lost faith that those balls would start to find holes and now they have.

“The longer you play the more likely the true colors will come out. These are Carlos Santana’s true colors. Great at-bat. Power. Aggressiveness. A rock in the middle of the lineup and in this case at the top of the lineup.”

Nola allowed just three hits and a walk over seven innings. He struck out eight. However, two of the hits that he gave up were home runs. Nola has been mostly brilliant at keeping the ball in the yard this season. He allowed just eight homers in his first 27 starts. He has given up five in his last two.

“Four of the five have been fastballs over the plate,” Nola said. “They've put really good swings on them. I'll take the positive out of them that they're solo homers.”

Nola is 16-4 with a 2.29 ERA in 29 starts. He has 196 strikeouts in 188 2/3 innings. He is locked in a tight Cy Young race with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, the pitcher the Phillies will face in Sunday’s series finale.

Another impressive stat: Nola is 8-1 with a 1.94 ERA after a Phillies’ loss this season.

Someone should buy him dinner, too.

More on the Phillies

Phillies 4, Mets 3: Rhys Hoskins breaks slump with crucial home run

Phillies 4, Mets 3: Rhys Hoskins breaks slump with crucial home run

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NEW YORK – An important bat in the Phillies’ lineup woke up Friday night and lifted the team to an important win.

Slumping Rhys Hoskins clubbed a tie-breaking home run in the top of the eighth inning to help propel the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the New York Mets in the first of a three-game series at Citi Field.

Hoskins had been in an 0-for-14 skid before the home run and he was just 2 for his previous 30. The home run was his team-best 28th and it made a winner out of Aaron Nola, who allowed just three runs over seven innings.

Nola is 16-4 with a 2.29 ERA.

The Phillies entered the night 3½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. The Braves were playing a late game in Arizona.

Another Nola gem
Nola is 8-1 with a 1.94 ERA after a Phillies’ loss this season.

The right-hander allowed just three hits and a walk. He struck out eight.

However, two of the hits that Nola allowed were home runs, including a game-tying solo shot by Dominic Smith in the bottom of the seventh.

Nola has been mostly brilliant at keeping the ball in the yard this season. He allowed just eight homers in his first 27 starts. He has given up five in his last two.

Hoskins’ big hit
Hoskins’ go-ahead homer came on a 1-2 fastball – 97 mph — from Tyler Bashlor. Hoskins fell behind, 0-2, in the count but stayed alive before launching the game’s biggest hit over the wall in left.

Good bullpen work
After Hoskins gave the Phils the lead, Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen. Seranthony Dominguez delivered a 1-2-3 eighth. Tommy Hunter got the save. Hunter has not allowed a run in his last 5 2/3 innings.

The lineup
Kapler loaded his lineup with switch-hitters and right-handed bats against lefty Steven Matz. One of those switch-hitters, Carlos Santana, belted a two-run homer in the third inning. Right-handed hitters Aaron Altherr and Jose Bautista started in center and right field, respectively, and batted in the No. 3 and 4 spots in the order.

Matz ran a high pitch count and exited after five innings. The Mets brought in righty Eric Hanhold for the sixth inning and Kapler pinch-hit for Altherr and Bautista with lefty bats Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams. Herrera led off with a double and scored on a one-out hit by Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Phils a 3-2 lead.

Make the skipper smile
Kapler is always talking about how he loves long at-bats where the hitter makes the pitcher work and does damage at the end of the at-bat. Santana’s at-bat in the third was nirvana for Kapler. Santana worked a full-count and hit the 10th pitch of the at-bat out of the park for a two-run homer.

Santana is hot
At a time when the Phillies really need his bat, Santana has five homers and 14 RBIs in his last 17 games. He is up to 22 homers and 81 RBIs for the season.

Phillie killer
Jay Bruce gave the Mets a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the second inning. He has 22 homers and 60 RBIs in his career against the Phils.

Health check
An MRI on Maikel Franco’s sore right wrist revealed a bone bruise. He remains day to day. He was able to take some swings before the game.

Roman Quinn did not start after some lingering soreness from being hit by a pitch in the foot on Wednesday.

Up next
Tough draw for the Phillies on Saturday night as they face gas-throwing Noah Syndergaard in the second game of the series.

Syndegaard pitched a complete-game two-hitter and struck out 11 against the Giants in his last outing. Zach Eflin goes for the Phillies.

Vince Velasquez opposes Cy Young candidate Jacob deGrom in the series finale on Sunday.

More on the Phillies

Marlins 2, Phillies 1: Failure to take advantage of a huge opportunity

Marlins 2, Phillies 1: Failure to take advantage of a huge opportunity

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MIAMI — The Phillies wasted a golden chance to make up ground in the NL East race on Wednesday night.

The Phils were manhandled by Miami Marlins rookie right-hander Sandy Alcantara in a costly 2-1 loss.

Alcantara, in just his second big-league start, held the Phils to three hits over seven scoreless innings.

The loss kept the Phillies three games behind first-place Atlanta with 23 games to play.

Atlanta lost earlier in the day, but the Phillies could not capitalize.

The Phillies lost the series to Miami. They have not won a series since Aug. 2-5.

Offense continues to be an issue for the Phillies. They have scored two or fewer runs in five of their last six games.

A big chance
Yes, Phillies players watched the Braves-Red Sox game in the clubhouse before their game. Yes, they saw the Sox come back from a 7-1 deficit to stun the Braves. The Braves’ loss gave the Phils a chance to cut their deficit in the division to two games and manager Gabe Kapler managed this one with playoff-level urgency. Down 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning and looking for offense, he used Odubel Herrera as a pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Nick Pivetta. Herrera grounded into a double play.

Looking for offense
Kapler’s desire to get some offense could be seen in his starting lineup. He sacrificed defense for offense in giving Carlos Santana his first start at third base in four years. That allowed him to get Justin Bour’s bat in the lineup at first base. Bour batted second. “This is a lineup top-heavy in on-base potential,” Kapler said before the game. “We feel like our lineup has a chance to score some runs tonight.” The plan was to substitute with stronger defense if the Phils got a lead, but they never did.

Free passes kill
The Marlins' two runs, both against Pivetta, initially reached base on a leadoff walk and a leadoff hit batsman. Ouch.

A costly play on the bases
Down 2-0, the Phils got a leadoff single from Roman Quinn in the eighth. Santana then hit a line drive to second and Quinn was doubled off first. It was a killer play because Jose Bautista then came off the bench and stroked a pinch-hit double to right-center. Bautista then scored the Phillies’ first run on a base hit to left by Asdrubal Cabrera. Facing Kyle Barraclough, Cabrera hit an 0-2 to pitch to left field to make it a 2-1 game. Rhys Hoskins stranded pinch-runner Scott Kingery at first base when he swung at a pitch out of the zone for his third strikeout of the night. Hoskins is 0 for his last 11 and that hurts.

A late chance
Down by one run, the Phils put two runners on base with one out in the ninth, but Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider struck out Pedro Florimon and Quinn to end the game.

Santana comes alive
Santana continued to swing it well out of the leadoff spot. He doubled with one out in the third, but the Phils could not get him home.

Good work by the pen
Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez combined on four scoreless innings to keep the Phils alive.

Miami madness
Miami dismantled its roster before the season and went into a rebuilding mode. That created the opportunity for NL East teams to clean up on the Marlins. First-place Atlanta did that. It went 14-5 against the Marlins this season.

The Phils are 9-7 against the Marlins with three more games to play in Philadelphia. The Phils went 3-6 in Miami. Their performance against the lowly Marlins could end up being the difference between first and second place in the NL East.

Phils lose pitching inventory
The Phillies lost pitcher Ben Lively on waivers to the Kansas City Royals. Lively, who opened the season in the Phillies’ major-league rotation, was designated for assignment earlier in the week. He is the second pitcher that the Phils have lost on waivers in the past week. Mark Leiter Jr. was claimed by Toronto.

Up next
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series in New York against the Mets on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups for series:

Friday night — RHP Aaron Nola (15-4, 2.23) vs. LHP Steven Matz (5-11, 4.20)

Saturday night — RHP Zach Eflin (9-6. 4.05) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (10-3, 3.33)

Sunday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (9-10, 4.10) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (8-8, 1.68).

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