Phils beat Marlins again, 5-4, remain on periphery of race

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              Philadelphia Phillies' Cesar Hernandez celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run off Miami Marlins' Drew Rucinski during the fifth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Gabe Kapler is keeping an eye on the NL playoff picture. He’s watching even closer to see how his Philadelphia Phillies handle their place in the standings.

He was happy with their resolve Saturday night.

Cesar Hernandez hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the fifth, seven relievers combined for seven shutout innings and Philadelphia beat Miami 5-4 for its second straight win following a five-game losing streak. That clinched the Phillies’ first series victory since a four-game sweep of the Marlins from Aug. 2-5.

Philadelphia overcame a 4-0 deficit and closed within 6 ½ games of first-place Atlanta in the NL East with 15 games left. The Phillies remained five games back for the NL’s second wild card, improving to 11-7 against the Marlins — including 8-1 at home.

“We looked at tonight as an opportunity to gain a game in the standings,” Kapler said. “But, much more importantly, it’s an opportunity to win a series and to demonstrate there’s zero quit in this team.”

The Phillies saw their 1 1/2-game advantage in the NL East turn into a 7 1/2-game deficit due to an 11-23 stretch from Aug. 6-Sept. 12 in which they failed to win any of their 11 series.

Kapler has seen contributions throughout the roster the last two nights.

“We’re really playing team baseball the last couple of days,” he said.

JT Riddle had a pair of doubles and three RBIs for the Marlins, who have lost five straight and at 57-91 are trying to avoid what would be only the third 100-loss season in team history.

Luis Garcia (3-1) got the last two outs in the fifth, and Pat Neshek pitched a hitless ninth for his fifth save in six chances. Philadelphia relievers allowed two hits, struck out eight and walked none.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez gave up four runs and four hits in two innings. Velasquez is 1-3 in his last seven starts and has gotten an out past the fifth inning just once since July 22.

“If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say frustration got the best of him tonight and therefore we had to go to our ‘pen,” Kapler said.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly started reliever Jarlin Garcia, and the lefty pitched a perfect first inning. Miami used seven pitchers.

Miami took a 4-0 lead with two outs in the second on Austin Dean’s RBI single and Riddle’s three-run double.

Justin Bour, pinch hitting for Velasquez, hit a two-run single in the bottom half off Brett Graves, runs that were unearned because Dean allowed Carlos Santana’s fly to drop behind him on the left-field warning track for an error.

Hernandez homered off Drew Rucinski (4-2).

“We really just had that one tough inning with Rucinski,” Mattingly said. “And we couldn’t put anything else up on the board.”

SWITCHES

The teams combined to use 39 players, including 15 pitchers. Kapler hit for shortstop Scott Kingery in the second inning before Kingery ever batted.

SLOPPY

Philadelphia’s two errors increased its total to 110. The Phillies trailed only St. Louis (112) for most in the majors starting the day.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco (sore right shoulder) was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game.

UP NEXT

Philadelphia RHP Nick Pivetta (7-12, 4.64) and Miami RHP Jose Urena (6-12, 4.29) are slated to start Sunday’s series finale.