By Tom Singer, Todd Zolecki and Nick Suss
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang is looking more and more like a solid piece to a contending team looking for starting pitching help, with another strong effort Thursday in a 4-2 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
Harang pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and one walk and striking out six to improve to 4-3 with a 2.03 ERA. The Phillies won their last two games against the Pirates to split the four-game series.
"That's something I can't dwell on," Harang said about a possible trade in the next couple months. "I have to think about what I will do five days from now and what I will do to help other guys by watching bullpens and paying attention to things in case I notice anything. I think that's the biggest thing -- being there and being accessible to try and help younger guys go through ups and downs to get them in the right direction."
"Mechanically, I was a little off," said Worley, who delivered 35 of his 81 pitches outside of the strike zone. "I wasn't finding the right arm slot. Just a little out of sync."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Alvarez experiences a growing pain: Pedro Alvarez's education at first base has been a recurring topic, and the ex-third baseman learned a hard lesson in the third inning. He failed to cover the bag on a rather routine leadoff grounder to second baseman Neil Walker, and it turned into a run when Jordy Mercer muffed Grady Sizemore's two-out grounder.
"That's the one thing we're still working with Pedro on," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "His whole life [as a third baseman], he has learned that anything hit to his right, he goes and gets. That's the thing he's had to work hard on, when balls are hit to his right now."
Howard, Galvis lead the way: Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and shortstop Freddy Galvis each had three hits to lead the Phillies' offense. Howard hit a solo home run to right field in the fifth inning. It is his seventh homer in his last 21 games. Galvis has seven three-hit games this season, which is second in baseball only to Miami's Dee Gordon (10 three-hit games).
"We've been able to bounce back against a really good baseball team and show what we are capable of," Howard said. "It's just being able to take that momentum and carry it over to tomorrow." More >
Harang deals again: Harang has pitched six or more innings in each of his eight starts this season. He has not allowed a run in three of them, and has allowed one run or fewer in five of them. More >
"A situation change defensively can sometimes help a player offensively. A different mindset, different routine. It frees him up." -- Hurdle, on Josh Harrison, his primary third baseman who got a start in left field and went 3-for-4, his first multihit game since April 26
"We'll see. I'm not sure yet." -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, on Triple-A third baseman Maikel Franco possibly being recalled before Friday's game. It is expected that Franco will be
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The Pirates turned their Major League-leading 40th and 41st double plays. The last time Pittsburgh led the Majors in twin-killings was in 2007, with 190, led by the keystone combo of second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Jack Wilson.
Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp caught Harrison stealing in the third inning and Starling Marte in the fourth inning. Both plays ended the inning. Just six of 12 baserunners have successfully stolen bases against Rupp this season. If he had enough games to qualify, his 50 stolen base percentage would be the best in baseball. Kansas City's Salvador Perez currently is best with a 52.4 stolen base percentage (11-for-21). More >
After an eventful ninth inning Wednesday night, Jeff Francoeur found himself in another notable moment Thursday. Francoeur hit a sharp ground ball to Mercer and chugged down the first-base line, but first-base umpire C.B. Bucknor called him out. The call on the field was reviewed, and it was ruled that the call stood. The replay lasted approximately 1:20.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates:Jeff Locke makes a return to the recent scene of his poorest start of the season to try the Cubs again in Friday's 2:20 p.m. ET opener of a weekend series at Wrigley Field. Locke lasted only 3 2/3 innings in an April 28 start in Chicago, surrendering six runs (five earned).
Phillies: Right-hander Chad Billingsley hopes the third time is the charm as Philadelphia opens a three-game series vs. the D-backs at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday. He has a 9.00 ERA after two starts this season, allowing 16 hits, 11 runs (10 earned), two walks and three home runs in 10 innings.