The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Cincinnati Reds by a 4-3 score on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The night began in ominous fashion for the Phillies down in South Philadelphia. But the ending could not have been more dramatic and exhilarating, as the Phils ultimately defeated the Reds by a 4-3 score.
That ominous beginning came thanks to some early struggles by Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola, who may have been put off a bit by a half-hour delay at the start due to some pregame rain.
But the young righty, who is developing into an ace before fans eyes, bore down and got out of the jam.
First, Brandon Phillips lofted a pop up into foul territory behind Phils’ first baseman Ryan Howard. The Big Piece tracked it down, but his momentum was taking him away from home plate, and he couldn’t get much on the throw home. Cozart zipped home with the game’s first run, and Cincy had a 1-0 lead.
Having gotten out of that jam with minimal damage, Nola took over. He would mostly dominate through his seven innings, allowing five hits while striking out nine and walking one. He would allow one more run in his final frame, but by then had the lead.
“Nola was fantastic after his first inning,” said manager Pete Mackanin per MLB.com writers. “I won’t say he struggled. He just gave them a couple pitches to hit. After that he was outstanding. If it wasn’t for the error I probably would have sent him out for the next inning. But he was great.”
The Phils gave him that lead by scoring once in the 4th and twice in the 5th innings. In the 4th, Maikel Franco and Ryan Howard banged one out doubles to tie the score at 1-1.
Then in the 5th, the Phillies got a leadoff base hit from Tyler Goeddel. Nola walked to put two runners on, and Peter Bourjos sacrificed them over to 2nd and 3rd. Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez each then followed with consecutive RBI singles, and the Phillies had taken a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the 7th, Adam Duvall doubled off Nola to score Phillips, who had led off the frame with a single, and the Phillies lead was cut to 3-2.
The Phillies would get that run back in the bottom of the 7th with a bit of controversy. Herrera drove a ball to deep right center that went for a home run. However, a fan had reached out for the ball before it went into the stands, so a review was necessary, one that would ultimately uphold the home run call and put the Phils on top 4-2.
“I don’t feel like I’ve abused them in any way, shape or form,” Mackanin said of Neris and Gomez per MLB.com’s Paul Hagen. “…when you have good pitching and you’re playing one-run games, you use your best guys for the eighth and the ninth. Up until this point, Neris has been almost unhittable. Why would I use anyone else?”
“But I have used Hernandez and I have used Bailey in tight situations earlier in the game. When every night it’s a one-run game, we’ve got to try to win the game…It’s not going to continue like this. And if it does, we’ll have other guys more involved.”
Andrew Bailey came on in relief and got through the 8th inning allowing just a walk. In the 9th, on came David Hernandez, who was signed in the off-season with the intention of becoming the closer, and who has been pitching very well over the last month.
Hernandez got ahead of Jay Bruce 0-2 to start the inning, but lost him on a leadoff walk. Eugenio Suarez followed with a single and Duvall doubled to score Bruce with a run, cutting the Phillies lead down to 4-3 and leaving the Reds with the tying run at 3rd and go-ahead run at 2nd base.
There was still just one out, and Reds manager Bryan Price sent Jordan Pacheco on as a pinch-hitter. Pacheco lifted a one-out fly ball to medium left field, and as Goeddel settled under the ball and caught the 2nd out, Suarez tug up and came racing home with what seemed would be an easy game-tying run.
Goeddel lined the fly ball up well, caught it with a little momentum going forward, and uncorked a fantastic strike to home plate that pulled Rupp into the base line a few feet in front of the plate.
Rupp caught the ball on the fly a split-second before Suarez arrived. The Reds’ 3rd baseman lowered his shoulder and went for the plate, which he had to realize in the final split-second was going to take a collision to reach.
As the two men collided, Rupp was crushed by the impact of the blow. However, his body was a brick wall, absorbing the blow and not allowing Suarez to ever reach the plate.
Rupp held on to the ball as the umpire dramatically pumped his fist in the “out” motion, and the home fans at Citizens Bank Park erupted in a roar in joyful realization of what they had just witnessed.
“I was just thinking, ‘Hold on to that ball for dear life. Don’t let it go.’ Whatever happens, happens,” Rupp said per Philly.com’s Matt Breen. “I sacrificed everything. That’s my plate. I’m not letting them get to it.”
Thanks to Goeddel’s perfect throw and Rupp’s heroics at the plate, Nola received a well-earned win, Hernandez was credited with his first Save on the season, and the Phillies had their 14th one-run victory of the season.
The win was also the club’s third straight, their sixth win in the last seven games, and pushed them past the New York Mets into 2nd place in the NL East race, just one game in back of the division-leading Washington Nationals.