Herrera’s triple in 8th lifts Phillies over Pirates 2-1
PHILADELPHIA (AP) On yet another chilly April night in their ballpark, the Phillies stayed hot at home.
Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, Carlos Santana and Maikel Franco each had two hits for the Phillies, who have won nine of 11 overall while improving to 7-1 at home. It is Philadelphia’s best start at home since it won seven of eight to begin the 1981 season.
”You can definitely feel a different vibe, a positive vibe,” Herrera said.
It didn’t start exactly that way this season in front of the Phillies faithful, who booed first-year manager Gabe Kapler during introductions before the home opener following some questionable moves on Philadelphia’s road trip to begin the season. But those boos quickly have turned to cheers as the Phillies have strung together one win after another at Citizens Bank Park, standing as the only NL team with just one loss at home.
”It’s incredibly gratifying to win at home,” Kapler said. ”I believe playing here at home in Philly is a big competitive advantage for us.”
Luis Garcia (2-1) pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Hector Neris blanked Pittsburgh in the ninth to earn his third save in four tries.
After Hernandez led off the eighth with a double and Santana grounded out, Herrera lined an 86-mph cutter from George Kontos (1-2) on a 1-2 count just inside the first-base bag to score Hernandez and give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
”It felt really good,” Herrera said through an interpreter. ”I have a plan and that’s to put the ball in play.”
Rhys Hoskins walked to put runners on first and third with one out before as bizarre a double play as you’ll see ended the inning. Kontos had Hoskins picked off, but first baseman Josh Bell threw home to get Herrera, who broke for the plate on the play. Hoskins then lost track of the outs and also was out on a caught stealing double play that was scored 1-3-4-2-5-8-7.
”We saw something we tried to exploit and the Pirates executed,” Kapler said. The manager added that he talked to Hoskins after the game and ”we’re going to move on.”
The Pirates threatened in the ninth when Jordy Mercer doubled with one out, but David Freese popped out in the infield and Adam Frazier grounded out.
After a promising 11-3 start, Pittsburgh has dropped four of five.
”We hit some balls really hard tonight that didn’t find grass,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Francisco Cervelli was hit by a pitch, went to third on Colin Moran’s double and scored on Mercer’s sacrifice fly to right.
Philadelphia tied it in the bottom half when Santana scored on Hoskins’ fielder’s choice grounder to third. Santana reached third on Herrera’s single to right, and Herrera tied a career high on the hit by reaching base safely in 21 straight games.
Ben Lively had his best outing in his fourth start for Philadelphia, allowing a run on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Lively said he was helped by a text from his grandfather, who told him to slow everything down.
Pirates starter Ivan Nova had similar numbers, giving up a run on five hits in six innings. Nova struck out three and walked none, and has fanned 21 batters against one walk in his last four starts.
ON A ROLL
Phillies starters have allowed three runs or fewer in their last 10 outings, posting a 2.31 ERA over that stretch.
”That’s awesome,” Lively said. ”We all feed off each other.”
The game-time temperature of 54 degrees felt much colder due a brisk wind blowing in from the outfield that knocked down several balls that might have cleared the fence on a warmer night.
Pirates: RHP A.J. Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) will make his next start at Triple-A Indianapolis. Schugel threw a scoreless inning at Single-A Bradenton on Wednesday.
Phillies: Right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two, at Double-A Reading on Friday night. Hunter, who has been sidelined all season with a strained right hamstring, made 20 pitches in his second rehab outing.
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola (1-1, 2.22) opposes Pirates LHP Steven Brault (2-1, 4.74) in the third game of the four-game set Saturday.