Phillies best Diamondbacks in wet series finale

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Phillies best Diamondbacks in wet series finale

BOX SCORE

As soon as the umpires halted the game and called the players off the field for the two-hour, 17-minute rain delay on Thursday night at the Bank, David Herndon had a pretty good idea he was going to pitch. After all, Herndons forte during his year-plus with the Phillies has been to weather the storm for the club.

A Rule 5 acquisition last season, Herndon has inherited the long-man role in the bullpen in 2011. In the 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks at the rain-drenched Bank, Herndons effort was just what manager Charlie Manuel needed.

Thanks to starter Vance Worley and Herndon pulling off the double-team, the Phillies took two out of three from the Diamondbacks to win their 14th series out of the last 16.

At 80-42, the Phillies remained 8 games up on the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. With the victory over the Diamondbacks coupled with the Braves 1-0 victory over the Giants, the teams magic number is 31.

The Phillies are 38 games over .500 for the first time since 1977 when the club finished the season with a franchise-record 101 wins. The Phils won their 80th game in the 122nd game, which is the fastest to 80 since 1976 when they did it in 121 games.

Herndon picked up his first win of the season and the second of his big league career by holding off the D-backs for three innings after the long rain delay. Essentially, Herndon finished what starter Worley began, giving up just one hit and notching four whiffs during his stint.

Worley gave up a hit in three innings before the rain came and washed out his bounce-back effort following a five-run first inning during his last start in Los Angeles. About 25 minutes into the rain delay, Worley played a little catch and then pitching coach Rich Dubee told him to close it down.

Enter Herndon, who has put together a nice second half to the season after getting cuffed around a bit in the early going. Though he doesnt get the call from the pen all that much, Herndon has made the most of the appearances he has received.

He hasnt allowed a run since July 18 and has an 0.73 ERA in 12 13 innings with 11 strikeouts since the all-star break. More telling, Herndon has a 1.65 ERA since returning from the minors in mid-May. He also appears to have a slider and a changeup to go with a hard fastball.

Where that changeup came from, though, is anyones guess.

To be honest with you, I dont ever work on it, Herndon said. I dont really throw it during side sessions at all.

Nevertheless, the turning point for Herndon came when he stopped trying to overpower hitters with his fastball and instead simply decided to throw downhill. It was not so much as velocity and stuff that Herndon was looking for as much as it was locating his pitching. If he threw 90 or 92-mph instead of 95, it was OK with him.

He had good command with his slider and changeup, Manuel said. He kept the ball down, especially when hes ahead in the count.

Meanwhile, with Herndon holding the fort in relief of Worley, John Mayberry, Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez drove home all of the teams runs. The first one came in the second inning when Valdez doubled home Raul Ibanez after a one-out double. Then, an inning before the rain paused the game, Mayberry clubbed a two-run homer off the foul pole in left field.

Ibanez wrapped up the scoring with another two-out double in the fifth to plate Chase Utley.

For Ibanez, the two doubles equal a third of the hits he had during August heading into Thursday nights game. But whether this signifies another slump busted for the 39-year old outfielder is yet to be determined. A streaky player throughout his career, Ibanez has taken his hot and cold periods to an extreme this season.

With some talk before the game that Manuel could begin to use Mayberry in left field against lefty pitchers, Ibanez snapped a 2-for-29 skid with that double in the second inning. However, with 17 RBIs in his last 21 appearances, Manuel has no plans to take the starting job away from Ibanez any time soon.

I think hes in a little slump here recently, but at the same time, for two or three games that really doesnt wager into him playing every day or not, Manuel said. Ibanez is going to play a lot in left field, this is not a platoon system. That doesnt mean Mayberry cant play some in center or right or some at first.

After the game the Phillies took the Amtrak to Washington, DC for a three-game series against the Nationals. Roy Oswalt (5-7, 3.84) is slated to pitch against Livan Hernandez (7-11, 4.21) in Friday nights opener. Kyle Kendrick (7-5, 3.25) rejoins the rotation in place of Cole Hamels for a start to take on lefty John Lannan (8-8, 3.55) while Roy Halladay (15-5, 2.53) faces Chien-Ming Wang (2-2, 4.22) in Sunday afternoons finale.

E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com.

Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

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Best of MLB: Walk-off single gives Giants 13th win in last 14 games

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford singled in Matt Duffy with two outs in the 10th inning, and the surging San Francisco Giants beat the San Diego Padres 4-3 Wednesday for their 13th win in 14 games.

Duffy singled off Brad Hand (1-2) with one out, pinch-hitter Hunter Pence popped out, Duffy advanced on a wild pitch and Crawford hit a 1-2 offering over center fielder Jon Jay as Duffy scored standing up.

Crawford also singled and scored after some alert baserunning in the second inning. Duffy and Denard Span drove in runs for the NL West-leading Giants.

San Francisco completed a three-game sweep, extended its winning streak to five and improved to 9-0 against the Padres this season. The Giants' two walkoff wins in the series were against Hand (see full recap).

Arrieta moves to 9-0 in Cubs' win over Cards
ST. LOUIS -- Jake Arrieta remained unbeaten on the season despite allowing as many as four runs for the first time in nearly a year and the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-8 on Wednesday.

Arrieta (9-0) joined the White Sox's Chris Sale as the only nine-game winners in the majors.

Arrieta allowed four runs in a regular-season game for the first time since June 16, 2015.

Arrieta became the first Cub to win his first nine decisions since Kenny Holtzman in 1967 and it is the best start to a season for the franchise since Jim McCormick went 16-0 in 1886.

Kris Bryant hit a three-run homer and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist each drove in two for the Cubs (see full recap).

Bradley extends hit streak to 29 in BoSox victory
BOSTON -- Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his major league-best hitting streak to 29 games, Xander Bogaerts homered to extend his hitting streak to 18 games and the Boston Red Sox beat the Colorado Rockies 10-3 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win.

Travis Shaw had three RBIs and Boston moved to a season-best 12 games over .500. The Red Sox have scored eight or more runs 10 times in their last 14 home games.

Steven Wright (4-4) had another solid outing, giving up three runs, two earned. He has now given up three runs or fewer in eight of his nine starts.

Chad Bettis (4-3) held the Red Sox scoreless through three innings but was responsible for seven runs over the next two innings before getting pulled.

The Rockies have lost six of their last seven -- all on the road (see full recap).

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

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Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering three-run home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”

Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday

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Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday

DETROIT — The Phillies have an off day Thursday.
 
It will come in handy for Maikel Franco.
 
The third baseman suffered what was termed a sprained right ankle while sliding into second base in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday. He hobbled off the field before the start of the bottom of the inning.
 
After the game, both Franco and manager Pete Mackanin stressed that the sprain was mild.
 
Franco received treatment after coming out of the game and he will again on the off day. Mackanin said he would exercise caution in determining Franco’s availability for Friday afternoon, but did not rule out playing Franco.
 
Franco was adamant. He’s playing.
 
“It’s a little bit sore, but it’s fine,” he said. “It already feels better. I’ll be ready for Friday. With the day off, I know I’ll be OK.”
 
If Franco can’t play, Mackanin would insert super-sub Andres Blanco into the lineup. He had two hits, including an RBI double, and scored two runs in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers (see Instant Replay).
 
Franco had a pair of singles and is 7 for 15 in his last four games.