Pirates 13, Phillies 8: Jeremy Hellickson roughed up; Jeanmar Gomez stretches it out

Pirates 13, Phillies 8: Jeremy Hellickson roughed up; Jeanmar Gomez stretches it out

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It was one of those days for Jeremy Hellickson.

"He didn't have anything go right," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Hellickson, the Phillies' projected opening day starter, gave up nine hits and eight runs in five innings of work in a 13-8 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Three of the runs were unearned after third baseman Maikel Franco committed a couple of errors (see full story).

"Things like that are going to happen," Hellickson said. "I have to figure out a way to limit the damage.

"Everything felt good. I was just leaving too many balls up."

Hellickson was able to stay on the mound and run his pitch count to 87. He should approach 100 in his next start as he zeroes in on opening day. Mackanin has not announced his opening day starter yet, but Hellickson lines up to get the nod for the second straight season.

"I'm ready to get out of here," he said.

The regular season begins two weeks from Monday in Cincinnati.

Gomez gets extra work
Mackanin began spring training by announcing that Jeanmar Gomez deserved the chance to be the closer after saving 37 games last season. But Mackanin did leave himself a little wiggle room to change his mind.

So, it was notable that Gomez pitched two innings Saturday. Was that a sign that Mackanin was leaning toward changing his mind and using Gomez in a multi-inning relief role?

The manager said no.

Pitching coach Bob "McClure wanted to get him stretched out, not for any particular reason, but just down here -- last year he did the same thing with all the relief pitchers. It's not going to hurt him," Mackanin said.

So Gomez is still the ninth-inning guy?

"Yeah, right now," Mackanin said.

Gomez struggled as closer last September and actually lost the job.

But this spring, he's been very good. He pitched scoreless ball for his two innings Saturday. He gave up a hit and struck out two. For the spring, he's allowed just a run in 7 2/3 innings. He has given up four hits, walked one and struck out four.

Hustling Hanigan
Veteran Ryan Hanigan, who is trying to stick with the team as a backup catcher, had a hit and is batting .429 (6 for 14). He has drawn six walks, tying him for the team high.

Hanigan also made a nice, hustling catch in foul territory. He had to negotiate a protective screen near the dugout and then juggled the ball while falling. But he hung on.

Hanigan is battling another veteran, Bryan Holaday, and rookie Andrew Knapp for the backup catcher's job.

Joseph mending
Tommy Joseph's sore left hand is getting better. He took batting practice and reported no problems. However, he will not play Sunday and Monday is an off day. If he returns to action Tuesday, he will have had a full week off after being hit by a pitch on the hand.

Up next
The Phils play the Rays in Port Charlotte on Sunday. Jerad Eickhoff starts for the Phils against lefty Blake Snell.

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Reds 3

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Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Reds 3

BOX SCORE

The Phillies rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Tommy Joseph won it with a single up the middle with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. The hit scored Aaron Altherr, who had singled and moved to second on a wild pitch.

The Phils have won just six of their last 27 games. Joseph has had a walk-off, game-winning hit in the last two wins.

In addition to Joseph, who also homered, the star of the game was the Phillies' bullpen. Four Phils' relievers combined on 3 2/3 scoreless innings after starter Jerad Eickhoff exited. The Phillies' bullpen is riding a 19 2/3-innings scoreless streak.

Starting pitching report
Eickhoff allowed eight hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings. He gave up a bunt hit and a two-run homer to the first two batters of the game but took a 3-2 lead into the sixth inning. He allowed a leadoff single and a one-out RBI double in that inning as the Reds tied the game at 3-3.

Veteran Bronson Arroyo, back in action at age 40 after recovering from surgery the last two seasons, gave up three runs — all on solo homers — over five innings.

Bullpen report
Good work by Edubray Ramos to get two outs in the sixth to strand a runner in scoring position and preserve a 3-3 tie. Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris each followed with a scoreless inning. Neris struck out dangerous Joey Votto on a splitter with a man on base to end the top of the ninth. He got the win.

Austin Brice pitched two scoreless innings for the Reds. Michael Lorenzen took the loss. He gave up two hits in the ninth. Joseph's game-winning hit came on a 97 mph heater.

At the plate
Cesar Hernandez, Michael Saunders and Joseph all clouted solo homers for the Phillies. Joseph has six homers in his last 21 games.

Zack Cozart smacked a two-run homer against Eickhoff in the first inning. The Reds tied the game on a one-out double by Scooter Gennett in the sixth.

Remembering Bunning
Jim Bunning died Friday night. Larry Bowa recalled the impact that the Hall of Famer had on his career (see story).

Up next
The series concludes Sunday afternoon. Zach Eflin (0-2, 5.36) and Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.99) are the pitchers.

Larry Bowa on Jim Bunning: His words 'resonated throughout my career'

Larry Bowa on Jim Bunning: His words 'resonated throughout my career'

Beyond the center field wall at Citizens Bank Park, retired Phillies uniform No. 14 was draped in black cloth on Saturday afternoon.
 
Jim Bunning, who wore that number during six seasons with the club, died late Friday night at his home in Kentucky. The Hall of Fame pitcher, who went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, was 85.
 
Bunning was a workhorse right-hander who pitched with smarts and competitiveness during his 17 seasons in the majors. He also pitched with the Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. He averaged 35 starts and won 89 games during his six seasons with the Phillies. He also authored one of the most iconic moments in club history when he pitched the franchise's first perfect game on a searing hot Father's Day in 1964 against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.
 
Talking about a perfect game as it is unfolding is considered baseball taboo. To mention it is to risk jinxing it. But Bunning broke tradition and in the late innings of that game talked openly with teammates in the dugout about the possibility of finishing off the feat.
 
"Jim Bunning was way too practical of a man to worry about a jinx," former teammate Rick Wise once said. Wise pitched the second game of that Father's Day doubleheader. It started 20 minutes after Bunning completed his perfecto and Wise had trouble finding a ball and a catcher to warm him up because everyone was busy celebrating the perfect game.
 
Bunning went 224-184 with a 3.27 ERA in 591 career games. He led the American League with 20 wins in 1957. He led the league in innings twice and strikeouts three times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1996 and went into Cooperstown as a Phillie.
 
Bunning had two tours with the Phillies, 1964-67 and 1970-71, and was a straight-laced competitor who expected effort and excellence from his teammates. During his second time through Philadelphia, as he was nearing the end of his career, he was a teammate of a young shortstop named Larry Bowa.
 
"I remember him coming up to me and saying, ‘Don’t ever, ever lose your energy. I don’t want to turn around and see your head dropping because you’re 0 for 3,’" Bowa recalled Saturday. "He said, ‘I don’t ever want to see that.’ He said, ‘You’ve got to be accountable. You’ve got to play with energy. You’ve got to play every inning of every game.
 
"I made an error one day and he turned around — I didn’t even want to make eye contact with him — he turned around and he was rubbing the ball and looked at me and I went, 'Yeah, I know I should have caught it.' He was just that intense."
 
Bunning had a mean streak on the mound. He led the league in hit batsman four times.
 
Bowa recalled the time Ron Hunt — a notorious plunkee — did not get out of the way of a Bunning breaking ball. As Hunt ran to first base, Bunning admonished him.
 
"He went over and said, 'Ron, if you want to get hit, I’ll hit you next time and it won’t be a breaking ball.' That’s what kind of competitor he was."
 
Bunning suffered a stroke last year.
 
"I knew he had been sick," Bowa said. "Tremendous, tremendous person who taught me a lot about the game in a short time.
 
"He always gave me good advice. He talked about self-evaluation with me all the time. He said you’ve got to be accountable in this game, no one gives you anything in this game. I never had a pitcher mentor me like he did. In spring training, he told me, ‘Keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open.’ It was that simple. I said, ‘Yes, sir.’
 
"When a guy like that takes the time with someone who is just starting, it’s, I mean, it resonated throughout my career."