For just the 3rd time in 38 games this season, the Phillies (15-23) scored more than 5 runs. As with most such games like that for any team, the offensive outburst resulted in a victory. In this case, that 7-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks (15-20) was a 4th straight for the ball club, extending their first winning streak of 2015.
On the mound, Jerome Williams, whose season we examined here at TBOH just yesterday, gained his 3rd victory. He did so by scattering 7 hits across 5 innings. Most importantly, Williams (3-3) didn’t hurt himself. He walked on one, throwing 55 strikes in his 75 pitches.
His counterpart with the DBacks, rookie phenom Archie Bradley (2-1), suffered the first loss of his big league career, and he earned it. Bradley allowed 5 hits and walked 3 in just over 2 innings pitched. His 59 pitches resulted in just 33 strikes as he struggled with command in his first game back after missing three weeks following an ugly incident in which he was hit in the face by a comeback liner on April 28th.
The Phils drew first blood when rightfielder Jeff Francoeur, who has been one of the Phillies best all-around players this season, drove his 3rd home run over the wall in left center to put the team up 1-0.
In the bottom of the third they stretched that lead out to 4-0, driving Bradley from the game when the young hurler couldn’t record an out. Freddy Galvis led off with a walk, and was followed by a Grady Sizemore single to right. It was one of 4 hits on the night for Sizemore, moved to 3rd in the batting order. Ryan Howard‘s rbi double was followed by a walk to Maikel Franco. When Chase Utley then slapped an rbi single to center, Bradley was done.
Francoeur then stepped up with the bases loaded and nobody out, and a chance to really blow it open early. Instead, he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Howard scored on the play, but reliever J.C. Ramirez then retired Carlos Ruiz, and had gotten the DBacks out of a big jam without further damage.
That Arizona pitching changed seemed to briefly make a difference, allowing the visitors a chance to get back into the game. A 2-out rbi single by Nick Ahmed in the top of the 4th and a 2-run homer by DBacks star 1st baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the 5th cut the Phillies lead down to a single run at 4-3.
The Phils offense then responded immediately in the bottom of the 5th. Franco led off with a single for his first hit since being recalled on Friday, and came all the way around to score when Utley followed with a double to right. Following another Arizona pitching change, Ruiz and Andres Blanco, pinch-hitting for Williams, smacked back-to-back rbi doubles and the Phils lead was back up to 7-3.
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With one out and DBacks Cuban rookie righthanded slugger Yasmany Tomas coming up, manager Ryne Sandberg played the matchups, and brought in righty setup man Ken Giles. As has happened on a number of occasions this season, the bullpen didn’t make it work, as Tomas drove an opposite field homerun, getting Arizona within 7-5.
The Phils took that lead into the 9th, and Jonathan Papelbon was brought in for the 4th time in 5 days. As he did on each of those days, Papelbon would close it out successfully. This time he made it look easy, striking out the first two batters, and ending the game with an easy grounder to 2nd base for his 9th Save of the season.
No one is under the delusion that this winning streak might mark a legitimate turnaround to the season, and could be a harbinger of a run up the standings. But the Phillies are within 8 games of .500 for the first time in 10 days, and within 6 games of 1st place for the first time in nearly a month.
The win also clinched the first series victory for the Fightin’ Phils since taking 2 of 3 from Atlanta at home in late April. And it also raised their home record above .500 at 11-10. On Sunday afternoon, Chad Billingsley will take the mound with the Phils having a chance to match their longest 2014 winning streak. The club won 5 straight twice last season, the final time in mid-July.