Instant Replay: Pirates 5, Phillies 3

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Instant Replay: Pirates 5, Phillies 3

BOX SCORE

Entering Wednesday’s game at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies were 6-0 when leading after the sixth inning. They aren’t undefeated in that situation any longer.

After a sold start by Roy Halladay, the Phillies' bullpen gave up four runs in the final three innings and the Pirates won, 5-3.

Prior to Wednesday evening, the Phillies' 'pen had allowed one or no runs in 14 of the last 16 games. The Phillies, who have lost two in a row to Pittsburgh, fell to 9-13.

Starting pitching report
Halladay got off to an excellent start. He struck out the side in the first inning, and he retired the Pirates on just six pitches in the second inning. Halladay allowed only one base runner through the first three innings.

Halladay threw 95 pitches (57 for strikes) over six innings. He surrendered one hit, two walks, one earned run and struck out eight. Halladay, who entered the game with a 6.04 ERA, lowered that mark to 5.08.

Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez -- who had a microscopic 0.56 ERA before Wednesday -- lasted 5 2/3 innings. He gave up nine hits, three earned runs, two walks and two home runs. He struck out five.

Bullpen report
Antonio Bastardo served up a home run to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez in the seventh.

In the eighth, Mike Adams surrendered two walks and two singles and was yanked after facing just four batters. With no one out, Jeremy Horst replaced Adams. Horst gave up a single to Brandon Inge, which allowed Starling Marte to score and put the Pirates ahead, 4-3. Both runs in the inning were charged to Adams.

Horst gave up another run in the ninth when Chase Utley couldn’t track down a fly ball along the right-field line. Marte ended up with a triple on the play and Clint Barmes scored.

At the plate
Utley -- who was moved back to the two-hole in the order when Charlie Manuel decided to juggle his lineup -- hit a solo home run to right field in the first inning. Utley leads the team with four homers. Wednesday also marked the 10-year anniversary of his first big-league hit -- a grand slam against the Colorado Rockies.

Ryan Howard added a home run in the fourth when he smacked an 0-2 curveball into the right-field stands. It was his second homer of the year, and the first 0-2 pitch he’s hit out of any ballpark since 2008.

The blasts by Utley and Howard were the first home runs off a left-handed pitcher by the Phillies this season.

The Phils added another run in the sixth inning when Kevin Frandsen, pinch hitting for Halladay, singled up the middle to score Ben Revere.

The Pirates were led by Alvarez and Marte, who had two hits each and combined for three RBIs.

In the field
In the third inning, Utley made one of his best defensive plays in a while. Utley dove to his right on a ground ball by John McDonald and threw the Pirates' shortstop out at first.

Dom Brown made a spectacular diving catch in left field in the fifth inning to rob McDonald of another hit.

Up next
Cliff Lee (2-1, 2.83 ERA) will face Pirates right-hander James McDonald (2-2, 4.12) on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro returns as Phillies go for sweep of Dodgers

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CSN

Today's lineup: Jorge Alfaro returns as Phillies go for sweep of Dodgers

After getting hit by a pitch on the hand on Tuesday night, catcher Jorge Alfaro is back in the lineup for the Phillies, who are aiming for a four-game sweep of the Dodgers.

On Wednesday, Alfaro was replaced by Andrew Knapp, who had one hit in three at-bats in a rare start.

Freddy Galvis, hitless in his last two games, is 4 for 7 with a homer and three RBIs against Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda.

For the first time in the last several weeks, cleanup hitter Rhys Hoskins is not in the spotlight for the Phillies. Instead, the attention has been on Aaron Altherr, who will try to finish an impressive series in style. Altherr, who hits fifth again on Thursday, is 5 for 11 with three homers and nine RBIs in the first three games against Los Angeles.

Odubel Herrera, who batted third last night and went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, hits sixth. His season batting average from that spot in the order is .340. 

Here is today's lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, LF
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. JP Crawford, 3B
9. Mark Leiter, P

Here is the Dodgers lineup: 

1. Chris Taylor, CF
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. Cody Bellinger, 1B
4. Yasiel Puig, RF
5. Curtis Granderson, LF
6. Chase Utley, 2B
7. Yasmani Grandal, C
8. Logan Forsythe, SS
9. Kenta Maeda, P

Aaron Altherr's clutch hits lead Phillies to another comeback win over MLB-best Dodgers

Aaron Altherr's clutch hits lead Phillies to another comeback win over MLB-best Dodgers

BOX SCORE

Somewhere in the basement of Citizens Bank Park sits a stash of champagne, chilled and ready to go for a celebration in the visiting clubhouse. It's only a matter of time before the Los Angeles Dodgers clinch their fifth straight National League West crown, but the Phillies would prefer it did not happen in their house.

The Phillies aren't saying that verbally.

They're saying it with their actions.

They've played some of their best and most exciting baseball of the season the last three nights in taking the first three games of a four-game series against the Dodgers. All three of the wins have been come-from-behind efforts. The Phillies set themselves up for a series sweep with a 7-5 win Wednesday night (see observations). The victory included two more big hits from Aaron Altherr and a game-ending catch by centerfielder Odubel Herrera that left you wondering how to say 'Wow!' in Spanish (see video).

Herrera burst into laughter when he was asked that question after the game.

His answer: "Wow!"

Altherr has delivered several Wow! moments in this series. There was his decisive grand slam against Clayton Kershaw in the opener, another home run in Tuesday night's win and four more RBIs on Wednesday night.

Altherr hit a game-tying, two-run home run in the seventh inning on a hanging breaking ball from Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling. Two batters later, Tommy Joseph went deep on another hanger from Stripling as the Phillies took a 5-4 lead.

The Phillies' bullpen has been excellent lately, but it struggled in this game and let leads of 2-1 and 5-4 get away.

But these Phillies aren't just playing out the string. They have young players trying to show they belong and that's creating problems for the 96-win Dodgers. After giving up the lead in the top of the eighth, the Phillies rallied for two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead for good. The rally featured a leadoff walk by Cesar Hernandez, a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis, a Dodgers' error, an intentional walk to Rhys Hoskins to load the bases and a two-run line drive hit to right by Altherr to put the Phils ahead.

Altherr, activated less than two weeks ago after a month-long stay on the disabled list, has nine RBIs in the first three games of the series. For the season, he is hitting .281 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 97 games. His OPS is .890.

"I'm just seeing the ball really well now. I got my timing back," Altherr said. "It's good when those two things come together. I'm just a lot more relaxed at the plate. I'm driving the ball better.

"I think when I first came back I was probably trying to do too much. You know, just trying to make up for lost time. It wasn't working. I went back to relaxing at the plate and letting the ball come to me and putting a good swing on it."

Altherr's decisive two-run single with one out in the eighth came against right-hander Brandon Morrow. Lefty Luis Avilan started the inning and loaded the bases on an intentional walk to Hoskins one batter before Altherr came up.

"That's part of the game," Altherr said of the intentional walk. "But, obviously, you still want to prove them wrong in thinking I'm an easier out. I just wanted to do the best I could to hit the ball hard somewhere."

Jake Thompson pitched five innings, ran a high pitch count, but exited the game with a lead.

He enjoyed watching from the dugout as his teammates rallied for five runs in their final two at-bats to make it three straight against the Dodgers.

"I think it gives us a huge boost knowing who we're doing it against," Thompson said. "They didn't get that record by a fluke. That team is really, really good. I think it shows how far this team has come this year."

The Phillies are moving in the right direction. At least their record is. They were 29 games under .500 before the All-Star break. Wednesday night's win left them at 32-33 after the break and that means something to a rebuilding team that has put a premium on improvement.

"To win these three games is huge for our confidence," Altherr said. "We know we're a good team. We have a lot of talent on this team. Wins like these help us believe in ourselves even more and help us to believe we can do this in the years to come. We're definitely excited about the future."

The Phillies' three wins in this series have come with Kershaw, Yu Darvish and All-Star lefty Alex Wood on the mound for the Dodgers. Those are three pretty good pitchers. The Phils will face righty Kenta Maeda in the series finale Thursday afternoon. A sweep would be a nice accomplishment. It would ensure that the Dodgers would not pop champagne corks in Philadelphia. And it would also give the Phillies a .500 record after the All-Star break, a little sign of progress as the team's fifth straight losing season winds down.