Hellickson, Phillies stymie Marlins for series win
By Joe Frisaro and Evan Webeck
PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremy Hellickson, changing speeds and overcoming a rough first inning, kept the Phillies in position to rally like they've done so often this season. Cameron Rupp's two-run single was enough cushion for Philadelphia to claim a 4-2 win over the Marlins on Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Andres Blanco delivered an RBI double in the Phillies' three-run third inning off Tom Koehler. Able to erase a two-run deficit in the first, Philadelphia took two of three in the series, while Miami capped its road trip at 3-4.
"This is a division that's going to be tough to win," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "You just can't afford to give games away. Today, felt like one we just let get away from us."
Koehler struggled finding the strike zone early, but he was able to give the Marlins seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna each had first-inning RBI doubles off Hellickson, who had a stretch of retiring 11 straight in his six-inning start. The Phillies pitching capitalized on three double plays.
Tyler Goeddel connected on his first Major League home run, a drive to center in the eighth off Jose Urena to add insurance.
"It's not like we can sit here and blame everything on Giancarlo because he's in slump," Mattingly said. "That's just not right. We've talked about being a team all year long. Again, we get two in the first and don't show up after that. He's one of eight guys going to the plate."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Koehler's slow start, strong finish: Finding a groove took a few innings for Koehler, but the Marlins' right-hander was able to regroup and get through seven. The damage, however, was done in a three-run third inning, when an error by first baseman Justin Bour opened the door for the Phillies. Bour was unable to handle David Lough's leadoff grounder, and the Phillies cashed in on three runs (two earned). Koehler retired 14 of the last 16 he faced.
"I threw some really good curveballs early in the game, but, unfortunately, I wasn't throwing my fastball for a strike," Koehler said. "So I wasn't getting swings on them. Everything plays off the fastball." More >
Rupp's return: The Phillies' third-inning rally, which plated all three of their runs, culminated on a two-RBI single up the middle from Rupp. The Phils' catcher had missed the last three games with an injured left ankle from Saturday's game-ending collision with the Reds' Eugenio Suarez. Manager Pete Mackanin thought he might give Rupp an extra day to rest before Thursday's off-day, but his decision to return Rupp to the starting lineup paid off.
"I told [Mackanin] I was good-to-go," Rupp said. "I came in, felt good this morning. He said, 'You're in there, then.'"
Hellickson settles in: It took an inning for Hellickson to get into his groove, but once he was there, he didn't stop. Three Marlins reached base in the first, scoring two runs on doubles from Yelich and Ozuna. Over the next five innings, though, Hellickson allowed only three to reach. He promptly erased two with a pair of 6-4-3 double plays and stranded Yelich on first with his third strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton to end his day. Hellickson struck out four and left the game holding a 3-2 lead.
"He continues to throw an outstanding changeup," Mackanin said. "He's changing speeds, and he's been spotting his fastball very well. I think that's what you call pitching." More >
Ozuna's two-out, RBI double: Ozuna's 16-game hit streak ended on Tuesday night, but the Miami center fielder didn't waste much time getting back to his hitting ways on Wednesday afternoon. Ozuna came up big in the first inning with a two-out RBI double, which gave Miami an early two-run cushion. The double to left scored Yelich, who doubled in the first run. The double also came after Stanton struck out, leaving Yelich on third.
"We battled back in D.C. We come in here, we battled the first night, and then it just seems like we showed up the last couple of days without that same urgency. We did it twice with the Phillies. We won the first game of the series at our place, and we let them win the last two. We did it here." -- Mattingly on his Marlins, coming off a four-game split at Washington, dropping the last two at Philadelphia after winning on Monday.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Ichiro Suzuki had a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning, giving him 2,950 hits in his big league career. The 42-year-old is now 50 shy of 3,000.
On the seventh pitch of his second-inning at-bat, Maikel Franco softly bounced a ball to third. He hustled down the line, but first-base umpire Joe West called him out. After a 45-second review, replay officials overturned the call and Franco was safe at first. The Phillies improved to 7-for-14 in challenges this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: Off on Thursday, the Marlins open a three-game series at 7:10 p.m. on Friday at Marlins Park against the Nationals. Lefty Justin Nicolino (2-1, 3.75 ERA), who lost at Washington last Saturday, will make his fifth start. The Nationals have yet to announce their starter.
Phillies: After an off-day, the Phils host the Braves for a three-game weekend series beginning at 7:05 p.m. on Friday. Aaron Nola (3-2, 2.89 ERA) starts against Matt Wisler (1-3, 3.14 ERA).