Ben Revere finally hits 1st big-league home run

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Ben Revere finally hits 1st big-league home run

Ryne Sandberg didn’t hesitate when asked if he thought centerfielder Ben Revere would ever hit a home run in the big leagues.

“No,” Sandberg said.

Through 384 games and 1,466 at-bats, Revere never hit a homer in the big leagues. Actually, he never really even came close. There were a few warning-track shots here and there, but nothing more than one could count on two hands.

Heading into Tuesday night’s game, Revere had the longest homer-less streak to start a career since Frank Tavares of the Pirates went 1,594 at-bats without a homer from 1972-77.

The odds were that if Revere was going to ever get a home run, he would have to use his legs to get it.

But with one out in the seventh inning of the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the Rockies (see game story), Revere got a 1-1 fastball from reliever Boone Logan and turned on it.

There was no doubt about it.

“When I got to second base, I didn’t know what to do,” Revere said. “When I hit it I knew I got it good. When I looked up and saw [rightfielder Michael Cuddyer] look up it kind of hit me a little bit. I was trying not to smile, but some of the guys got on me. It was hard not to smile.”

With one homer in his career, Revere is tied with other renowned slap hitters like Pepe Frias and Duine Kuiper. Frias played in 723 big-league games over nine seasons and didn’t hit a homer until the seventh year of his career. Kuiper hit his lone homer in the fourth season of a 12-year major-league career.

Kuiper played eight more years without hitting another homer.

Revere’s drought wasn’t as bad as some, though. Phillies bench coach Larry Bowa didn’t get his first homer until his 1,745th plate appearance and it was an inside-the-park job. Bowa didn’t actually hit one out of the park until the 599th game of his career.

“You have to give him credit for going out there for that many at-bats and to finally get that first home run,” said pitcher Cole Hamels, who also has one career homer. “It’s a special moment. Hopefully there will be more of that to come with not as many at-bats in between. We know he’s capable of doing it, but it’s an exciting moment for him. We’ll probably give him a good time -- the hitters will razz him a little more in BP tomorrow.”

Revere knew he was going to get one, he just hoped it would have come in a winning situation.

“It was just a matter of time,” Revere said. “My game is to hit line drives and to hit the ball on the ground. I get in a lot of trouble when I hit the ball in the air. But this time it went over the fence. I wish we would have won the game, but it was a good feeling.”

Sandberg, who hit his first homer in his 27th game, went just three innings between that maiden homer and No. 2. The Hall of Famer, who retired with 282 homers, knew Revere had the power. He just never thought it would happen in a game.

“He gets them all the time in batting practice, but that was a rare swing to the pull side elevating the ball,” Sandberg said. “He does such a good job with his role of staying on top of the ball and hitting the ball through the holes, but it looked like batting practice for him.”

Now that he has that first one under his belt, Revere has his eyes set on No. 2 … and beyond.

“It’s past me and now I’m just trying to get 400 more,” Revere said.

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield hit a two-run, two-out double that capped a four-run rally in the ninth inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night to reach .500 for the first time since April.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Royals improved to 36-36. They were 6-6 before play on April 20, then went on a nine-game losing streak that night and dropped as low as 10-20, seven games out of first place. They trail AL Central-leading Cleveland by three games.

Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth and extended it when Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak hit RBI singles off Joakim Soria (4-2) (see full recap).

Dodgers cruise past Rockies for 8th straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig homered and left-hander Alex Wood kept his record perfect as the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the NL West rival Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Friday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 15 games. They have scored at least six runs in seven consecutive games.

Wood (8-0) allowed one run in six innings. He gave up only three hits and walked two, retiring his last 10 batters.

The Dodgers have homered in 15 consecutive games, tied for fourth-longest streak in club history. The last time they managed it was in 1977. Their record is 24 consecutive games with a home run.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeman (8-4) allowed five runs and a career-high 10 hits and three walks in six innings (see full recap).

Torreyes hits walk-off single to lift Yanks over Rangers
NEW YORK -- Ronald Torreyes hit a game-winning single with two outs in the 10th inning after midnight, and the New York Yankees edged the Texas Rangers 2-1 on a rainy Friday night for just their second win in 10 games.

Brett Gardner lined a tying home run with one out in the New York ninth off closer Matt Bush. After Chasen Shreve (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th, Torreyes kept the Yankees atop the AL East.

Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka kept it scoreless into the late innings in the first major league meeting between the Japanese stars (see full recap).

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- The clubhouse was beginning to clear and still the star of the game had not yet emerged from the shower.

"He's in there cleaning the guacamole and mayo out of his hair," Cameron Rupp said with a laugh.

Eventually Mark Leiter Jr. made it out of the shower and over to his locker where equipment man Phil Sheridan presented him with three game balls, souvenirs from not only his first big-league start but his first big-league win, as well.

"It's something I'll never forget," the 26-year-old right-hander from Toms River, N.J., said pitching six shutout innings to backbone the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night (see Instant Replay).

"I’ll be honest, I was probably more excited for this than I was for my major-league debut. To go out there and contribute to a win is what I was hoping to do."

Leiter, a 22nd-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2013, had never made it onto the 40-man roster until the Phils needed a reliever in mid-April and gave him a shot after he'd gotten off to a good start at Triple A. He spent six weeks in the majors and made 12 relief appearances before being sent back to Triple A the first weekend of June.

Leiter worked as a starter during his time back at Triple A. He pitched six shutout innings against Syracuse in his last start and got the call to come back up when Jerad Eickhoff went on the disabled list with a back strain earlier this week.

Leiter's return assignment was not easy: The Diamondbacks are one of the best hitting clubs in the majors and the best on their home turf. They entered the game scoring 6.48 runs per game at home and with an .886 OPS, both major-league bests.

None of that fazed Leiter.

"In my opinion, this is the big leagues and it doesn’t matter who the lineup is," he said. "They all have the ability to hit and hit well. They’re all big-leaguers and they've earned their right to be big-leaguers. I was just trying to pitch to the team you're facing that day."

Leiter trusted his low-90s fastball and commanded it well. He mixed in his secondary stuff and kept the D-backs off-balance with his splitter. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out five. He showed no fear.

"Great performance," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He made it look easy. He made a lot of good hitters look bad with his split. For him to come up and do that to a real good hitting team was outstanding."

Leiter's dad, Mark Sr., pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. He made the trip in from New Jersey to watch his son's first big-league start.

"I guess they found him on TV," Leiter said. "That's what they were telling me. I'm sure he wasn't too pleased they found him because he was probably stressed out. But I think it was probably worth him coming out here. He's probably happy."

How could he not be?

Leiter's teammates were definitely happy.

They treated Leiter to a raucous postgame dousing that included as many different condiments as could be found in the clubhouse dining room. One laughing player had a bottle of ketchup in his hands. Another had a squeeze bottle of honey.

And then there was the guacamole and mayo that Rupp mentioned.

"In his first major-league start, to come up here and do that in what is known as a good hitters’ park - that proves Mark is pretty strong between the ears," Tommy Joseph said. "He's been one of those under-the-radar guys that people have doubted, but his mentality and ability to prepare are second to none."

Joseph played a big role in the win, smacking a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Phillies some breathing room. Maikel Franco also had a big home run and Freddy Galvis contributed an important triple that led to a Phillies' run in the first inning.

The Phils still have the worst record in the majors at 24-48, but they've won two in a row, both on the back of good starting pitching performances. Aaron Nola pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Thursday.

And Leiter delivered on Friday.

"It's good to see those back-to-back," Mackanin said.