Brown, 'pen and Brignac lead Phillies to win in 14

ap-phillies-team-celebrate.jpg

Brown, 'pen and Brignac lead Phillies to win in 14

BOX SCORE

It took a couple of miscues at third base by Cesar Hernandez on Thursday night for utility man Reid Brignac to get into the Phillies’ starting lineup for the first time.

Brignac made the most of his opportunity Friday night. His bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 14th inning snapped a tie that lasted 8½ innings and lifted the Phillies to a 6-5 victory over the New York Mets in a game that started on Friday night and ended five hours and 23 minutes later at 12:30 a.m. Saturday (see Instant Replay).

“I’m happy to come through for my teammates,” said Brignac, who was with the team in spring training and came up from Triple A earlier this month. “This is definitely one to remember for me.”

Before Friday night’s start, Brignac had just six plate appearances since joining the Phils. The walk-off hit was the second of his career. He homered to beat the Yankees when he was with Tampa Bay in 2010.

Brignac is looking for a simple return on his clutch hit.

“It just felt great to be on the field, playing the game I love,” he said. “Hopefully a night like this will get me in there tomorrow.”

Brignac’s hit came after three hitters reached base for the Phillies in the 14th against Mets closer Jenrry Mejia. Marlon Byrd opened the frame by getting to second when rightfielder Chris Young dropped a fly ball to right. The wind got pretty frisky as Friday turned into Saturday, but Young didn’t blame his costly two-base error on that.

“It was just a flub-up,” he said.

After the error, Carlos Ruiz singled and pinch-hitter Hernandez was walked intentionally. That brought Brignac to the plate for the game-ender.

“I had a good feeling,” he said. “I was confident. He threw a cutter that caught a lot of the plate and I didn’t miss it.”

The Phils' last two wins have both come in their last at-bats and both have been aided by defensive miscues by the opposition. They rallied to beat the Rockies on Wednesday night. The Rockies made two errors in the ninth before Ryan Howard’s game-winning homer.

The Phillies probably would not have won that game if it weren’t for Mike Adams’ stellar relief work. (He pitched out of Antonio Bastardo's no-outs, bases-loaded jam.) They would not have won this game without stellar work from the entire bullpen. Six relievers, capped by Justin De Fratus’ two innings, teamed to throw seven shutout innings.

“That was the key,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “They did not give up a run and that gave us a chance.”

De Fratus got the win.

“I think this was definitely a confidence-builder for our whole bullpen,” he said.

Starter A.J. Burnett went seven innings and allowed five runs. He struck out 11, but walked six.

“The walks,” he said. “Two a game, fine, but six …”

Beleaguered leftfielder Domonic Brown paced the offense with four RBIs, three of which came on one swing at a 2-0 fastball from starter Rafael Montero in the fourth inning. Calls for Brown to be benched or even sent to the minors have grown in recent days, but Sandberg has stuck with him. Brown’s batting average dipped to .199 after he flied out in the second inning. But he rebounded with his three-run homer in the fourth. He added an RBI groundout an inning later.

“The three-run homer was big at the time,” Sandberg said. “That’s the type of swing and the type of game that can boost his confidence, something I was hoping for and looking for.”

Did Brown need a game like this?

“I don’t know,” Brown said.

(Editorial comment: He did.)

“I felt good,” Brown added. “I wasn’t over-swinging. I didn’t miss the fastball. I got into a hitter’s count and put the bat on the ball. It’s that simple.”

We’ll see if Brown can build on his success Saturday afternoon.

Sleep fast. First pitch is at 3:05 p.m.

Today's lineup: Ryan Howard batting fifth again

Today's lineup: Ryan Howard batting fifth again

In his second-to-last game in a Phillies uniform, Ryan Howard will man first base and bat fifth against the Mets on Saturday afternoon (1:05/FOX).

Howard went 1 for 4 Friday night with a double. The first baseman has three home runs and five RBI in 44 at-bats against the Mets this season. 

Andres Blanco takes Freddy Galvis’ starting spot at shortstop and bats second. Galvis left Friday night's game with hamstring tightness. Blanco has not made a start since Sept. 16, but is batting .294 against the Mets this year.

Cameron Rupp catches and bats sixth for the second day in a row. Rupp went 2 for 3 on Friday night with an RBI. Jimmy Paredes and Aaron Altherr follow Rupp in the lineup and man the corners in the outfield.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Andres Blanco, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Phil Klein, P

And the Mets lineup:
1. Jose Reyes, 3B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
4. Curtis Granderson, CF
5. Jay Bruce, RF
6. T.J. Rivera, 2B
7. James Loney, 1B
8. Travis d'Arnaud, C
9. Bartolo Colon, P

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Is Phil Klein ready to stop 5-game skid?

Phillies-Mets 5 things: Is Phil Klein ready to stop 5-game skid?

Phillies (70-90) vs. Mets (86-74)
1:05 p.m. on FOX

The Phillies continue to stumble towards the finish line with their fifth straight loss and seventh in eight games. Phil Klein makes a spot start out of the bullpen for the Phils while the Mets turn to Bartolo Colon in a nationally televised game.

Here are five things to watch on Saturday afternoon.

1. Mets playoff update
With Friday's win, the Mets cannot be eliminated this weekend. Their magic number for a playoff spot is just one.

That means that if they win one more game or the St. Louis Cardinals lose a game to the Pirates in the next two days, the Mets clinch a spot in the NL wild card game. If the Phillies are able to beat the Mets back-to-back, the Cardinals win both games and the San Fransico Giants win at least one game, the Mets will be forced to play in a tiebreaker on Monday.

Got all that?

Because the Mets won four of seven against the Giants this year, they only need one more win to clinch homefield advantage in the NL wild card game. That means that if they win on Saturday, they'll have the ability to skip Noah Syndergaard, the scheduled starter for Sunday, and have him pitch in the wild card game. 

Therefore, a win by the Phillies on Saturday that isn't accompanied by both a Cardinals and Giants loss would likely force the Mets to pitch Syndergaard before 
the wild card game.

2. Life after Howard
Ryan Howard's option for 2017 will undoubtably be declined by the Phillies after the season, meaning of course that Howard is in his final two games in a Phillies uniform.

But what exactly comes next?

It's easy enough to say Tommy Joseph. Joseph has been extremely impressive in his first season in the majors. The now-25 year old broke into the majors in a big way and carries a .257/.308/.505 line into Saturday over his first 347 big league plate appearances. He has 21 home runs and 47 RBI. 

But there are reasons to be concerned. The big one is his injury history. Joseph dealt with concussion issues that moved him to first from behind the plate. While it seems to be behind him, it does raise a question with his durability. He also struck out in over 20 percent of his plate appearances this year and will need to be better in that regard.

Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how he handles making the team out of spring training next year and manning first base every day. The term 'sophomore slump' exists for a reason because plenty of players take a step back in Year 2.

It doesn't mean Joseph can't be relied on as the future at first base. Far from it. But how the Phillies provide support for him during the inevitable peaks and valleys will be key to his long-term takeover of the first base job.

3. Klein makes spot start 
The Phillies chose not to give Jake Thompson one more start and instead will hand Klein the penultimate start of the season. 

Klein made a spot start for the Phils on Aug. 3 vs. the Giants after Aaron Nola was shut down for the season. The 27-year-old righty held his own for five innings, allowing four runs in a 5-4 Phillies win, although he didn't factor in the decision.

Things haven't gone so well for Klein since he was recalled earlier in September. Klein dominated Triple A with a 1.51 ERA in 14 appearances (10 starts), but he's appeared out of the bullpen twice for the Phils in the last week. He gave up three runs and five baserunners while getting one out in the 17-0 loss on Sunday.

He followed that up with a four-out, two-run outing. He's thrown just 52 pitches and 24 strikes in those games, meaning he's lacking control and isn't fully stretched out. It's hard to blame Klein for his rust: He hadn't pitched in 16 days before Sunday.

Expect Klein's outing to be somewhat shortlived and this game to be a bullpen affair.

4. Big Bart in a big game
Believe it or not, but the oldest member of the Mets' rotation this year has been the healthiest.

Colon, who turned 43 in May, has made 32 starts, his most in a season since he won the American League Cy Young in 2005. He has started every fifth day for the Mets this year and even made one start on short rest. Meanwhile, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, all under 30, were lost to arm injuries for the season.

The righty known as Big Bart had a streak of five straight quality starts until his last start on Sept. 26. It was the Marlins' first game after Jose Fernandez's tragic death and the Fish knocked Colon around for seven runs while he recorded just seven outs.

Colon only threw 47 pitches in that game, so he should be completely fresh today. The big man carries an impressive 3.42 ERA and 14-8 record into Saturday, made even more remarkable considering he began in baseball in 1997.

5. This and that
• Howard has just six hits off Colon in 35 plate appearances, but he has made them count. He has three home runs and eight RBI. One of the home runs came earlier this season while the other two came in 2008.

• The Mets have turned up their offense in September, averaging 5.22 runs per game and going 17-10. The Phillies have been just about the opposite, going 10-17 and scored just 4.07 runs per game. 

• The Phillies are in the midst of their fourth losing streak of at least five games this year. They won't have a chance to eclipse their nine-game losing streak from Jun. 14-22.

• At 70-90, the Phillies are 20 games under .500 for the first time all season. They currently have the eighth worst record in baseball. The worst draft pick they can finish with is No. 9 overall.