Ryne Sandberg has squeezed a few wins out of the Philadelphia Phillies already, and the interim manager will look to lead the Phillies to their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games as they host the Diamondbacks on Saturday night.
Sandberg’s tenure got off to a slow start, as the Phillies (58-70) were shut out in his first two games. They’ve rebounded to win five of six, including the last three. On Friday night, they posted a 4-3 walk-off victory on Chase Utley’s bases-loaded walk.
“Anytime you have walk-off (wins), it creates excitement, and right now it’s carrying over to the next day,” Sandberg said.
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Carlos Ruiz, who batted .219 over the 4-21 swoon that ultimately cost ex-manager Charlie Manuel his job, is 12 for his last 20. Darin Ruf, who had just two home runs in his first 66 at-bats, has homered in consecutive games and has eight — tied for the most in the NL in August — in 74 at-bats. The right fielder is 5 for 12 during the Phillies’ current winning streak.
“We’re playing together and having fun in here, being able to go out on the field believing in each other,” Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels said. “We’re taking that direction and have to keep pushing in that direction as long as we possibly can.”
The Phillies will now try to back rookie Ethan Martin, who has pitched well over his last three starts. Martin (2-2, 5.23 ERA) has recovered well after allowing six runs in his first big league start. He has allowed six runs over three subsequent starts, including a win over the Rockies on Monday in which he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings.
“I felt like I was able to slow things down, be patient and just go at it,” Martin said.
Martin looked dominant at times against the Rockies, retiring 18 of the first 20 batters. He fanned five over the first two innings and allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings before yielding both runs in the seventh.
“When you have a pitcher out there setting the tone like Martin did, it goes a long way,” said Sandberg, who likely will stick with the 24-year-old the rest of the season with Jonathan Pettibone out for the year.
Martin, who gave up a solo homer to Troy Tulowitzki in the seventh, has allowed at least one home run in each of his four starts.
For the Diamondbacks, Randall Delgado (4-4, 3.82) suffered his first loss since July 8 on Monday, when he allowed five runs in six innings of a 5-3 loss to the Reds. Three of those runs came in the fourth inning, when he surrendered hits to the first four batters he faced.
“We just missed some balls down the middle,” catcher Wil Nieves said. “You miss with some fastballs down the middle and they’re going to put some hits together.”
Delgado’s composure has been tested of late. After pitching 14 2/3 scoreless innings, the right-hander has yielded three or more runs in four straight games, giving up six home runs in that span.
“He did a good job all in all,” Gibson said of his previous start. “If you watch Randall this year, he keeps his composure. He toughed it out.”
That doesn’t bode well at Citizens Bank Park, though, a hitter-friendly stadium where Delgado will start for the first time. He held the Phillies to two runs in eight innings on May 3, 2012, while with the Braves, but he took a 2-0 loss in that game.
The Diamondbacks have lost five of six to fall 10 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West race and seven games back of the Reds for the second wild-card spot.