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

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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.

Phillies 10, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Hellickson limbers up, offense continues to hit

Phillies 10, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Hellickson limbers up, offense continues to hit

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jeremy Hellickson did not shine in his spring debut Sunday, but he didn’t have to.

Hellickson projects to be the Phillies' opening day starter for the second straight year, but with five weeks to go before it all starts for real in Cincinnati, he has plenty of time to put a coat of polish on his game.

The right-hander knocked off some wintertime rust with two innings of work against the Toronto Blue Jays. He gave up four hits and two runs, walked one and did not strike out a batter.

"I felt great," Hellickson said. "I wasn't really commanding the fastball like I wanted, but my arm and my body felt good."

Hellickson went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Phillies last season and could have opted for free agency in the offseason. However, he surveyed the marketplace and determined he'd be better off taking the Phillies' qualifying offer of $17.2 million for 2017 and trying his luck on the free-agent market next season.

So he's betting on himself.

"That's kind of how I'm looking at it," he said. "It was easy to do that just with the way I felt last year. I think I can definitely repeat or exceed what I did last year."

The Phillies can't give Hellickson another qualifying offer after this season so it's quite possible they will look to deal him in July. But that won't necessarily be easy. The Phils had talks with a number of teams about Hellickson last July and were unable to consummate a deal. It will be tougher this July as Hellickson’s salary has jumped by $10 million. The Phillies may have to eat some of that salary to get a deal they like.

Hellickson was asked if he was ready for another summer of trade rumors.

"No," he said with a wry smile. "But I know it's coming."

He's holding out hope that the Phillies will play their way into contention and the front office keeps the rotation together. He believes it's possible.

"I think we have a really good team here," he said. "Hopefully we're the ones trading for guys at the deadline.

"I've been reading some stuff saying (Aaron) Nola is a No. 5 guy. If Nola's your No. 5 guy, you have a pretty good rotation. I definitely think one through five we can give six, seven, eight strong innings every time out. Then with the guys, we signed for the back of our bullpen, it'll make our jobs that much easier. The days we don't have it, I feel like we can hand it off to those guys after five or six. We're in pretty good shape."

The game
The Phillies beat the Jays, 10-3, on the strength of 13 hits and three Toronto errors. The Phils had eight hits in Saturday’s win over the Yankees.

Cam Perkins, Pedro Florimon and Daniel Nava all had two hits. Rhys Hoskins and Ryan Hanigan both walked twice. Andres Blanco homered. Brock Stassi doubled. Nick Williams had a hit, two RBIs and a walk. Power-hitting rightfielder Dylan Cozens stole two bases.

Cozens is a legitimate stolen-base threat. In addition to belting 40 homers at Double A Reading last season, he swiped 21 bags and was only caught once.

"You've got to like his tools," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's really an athletic guy. He's got good hands at the plate. I think he's going to hit because he doesn't have a lot of excess body movement. He hits a lot with his hands and I think in time he'll cut down on the strikeouts and he'll be an even better player. He looks like a solid defender, good hitting ability, a lot of power and some speed."

On the mound
Ben Lively and Alberto Tirado both pitched two scoreless innings and Pat Neshek and Michael Mariot had one each.

Up next
Jerad Eikchoff makes his spring debut when the Phillies host the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon.

Clay Buchholz will get the start Tuesday against Baltimore.

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

"I got to briefly shake his hand," Pivetta said Sunday morning. "He knew I was like a stalker. He said, 'Oh, right, you're the guy from British Columbia.'"

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.