Hellickson's gem hurts Marlins' WC chances

Hellickson's gem hurts Marlins' WC chances

PHILADELPHIA -- The Marlins' Wild Card hopes continue to plummet.

The Phillies made sure of that, scoring five in the first and two more in the second off Marlins starter Jose Urena in an 8-0 win on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, clinching a win for the Phils both in their final set against the Marlins this year and in the season series.

Six games back of the Mets for the second National League Wild Card spot and now two games below .500, the Marlins had a 0.7 percent chance at the postseason entering Saturday, per MLB.com's projections. The loss officially eliminated them from the NL East race.

Jeremy Hellickson tossed a three-hit shutout, capping a stellar season against Miami. He held the Marlins to three earned runs or fewer in all six starts this season, improving to 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA. 

"That's what we're trying to do every time out," Hellickson said. "It wasn't something I was thinking about, but I definitely knew when the last time was. It's been a long time. It was nice to get to go back out there in the ninth and finish it."

Every Phillie batted in the first inning and every position player reached base by the fifth. Four players collected multiple hits on the night, including Cesar Hernandez to extend his on-base streak to 23 games and Tommy Joseph for his 20th home run of the season. A.J. Ellis cleared the bases with a double that put the Phillies up 5-0.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly called it the turning point in the game.

"I thought the Ellis hit was huge from the standpoint that if we get out of that at two -- we've got two outs, he gets [Aaron Altherr] -- then he hits a ball down in the corner for three [runs]," Mattingly said. "If we're able to get out of that right there, it's at that point manageable and you begin the next inning. From then on, we pitched really pretty good."

Phils score five in the 1st

The Phillies tacked on two more in the second to give them a seven-run lead before the entire Marlins order had even come to the plate.

"You get a little more aggressive, you want to make something happen," Mattingly said of the early deficit. "You get behind, and it's just not the same at-bats.

"If it's a 1-0 game, every one of your at-bats can change the game. When you get down seven, you know it's going to take numerous at-bats to be able to get back in the game. If you can't mount that charge guy after guy, it's a lot tougher when you're down like that against a guy like him."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Joseph hits his 20th: The Phillies outrighted Joseph off the 40-man roster last October, but he hit well early this year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and got promoted to the Phillies in May. What a season he has had. Joseph blasted his 20th homer in the second inning -- a towering two-run shot to center field that handed the Phillies a 7-0 lead. Willie Montanez (30 in 1971), Dick Allen (29 in 1964), Ryan Howard (22 in 2005) and Scott Rolen (21 in 1997) are the only Phillies rookies to hit more home runs in a season than Joseph.

"It is cool," Joseph said. "At this time last year, a lot of people had given up on my future. But to be sitting here with 20 homers in The Show, it's a pretty special feeling." More >

Joseph's two-run homer

See ya, Urena: The Phillies sent Urena to the showers early -- and far quicker than in his last start against the Dodgers, when he came one out away from a four-hit shutout. On Saturday, Urena hadn't even recorded two outs by the time the Phillies had managed four hits off the 25-year-old right-hander. The Marlins allowed Urena to finish two innings before pinch-hitting for him, but by the time they turned to Justin Nicolino in long relief, the Phillies had plated seven runs on seven hits off Urena. It was the second time this season Urena has surrendered at least seven runs in a start. The last time, after eight runs given up in 4 1/3 innings to the Cardinals, Miami sent Urena back to Triple-A New Orleans. After allowing five runs in his return to the big leagues, Urena had made five starts with a 2.30 ERA before his implosion against the Phillies.

"It happens," Urena said. "You have to be focused, like you're learning about this game. You can't get down about your career. … You've got to be focused and put the ball over the plate. If they swing, that's how it is." More >

Hella good: Hellickson (12-9, 3.57 ERA) is putting himself in a strong position for the offseason following the second shutout of his career and first since May 13, 2011, when he pitched for the Rays. He is set to become a free agent, and the Phillies are expected to make him a qualifying offer. But Hellickson is expected to reject it as he figures to be one of the top starting pitchers available.

"I've felt good every time out," Hellickson said. "I've felt good in between starts. I'm recovering like I was earlier in my career, so I'm able to work on stuff in my bullpens and work out a little more than I have in the past. I'm just feeling really good, and I'm going to try to finish strong."

Herrera heats up: Phillies manager Pete Mackanin moved Herrera into the No. 3 spot in the Phillies' lineup, and he did not disappoint. Herrera went 2-for-5 with one double and one RBI to raise his batting average to .283. Herrera is hitting .500 (10-for-20) with four doubles and two RBIs in his last five games.

"We were hoping that he would turn it around," Mackanin said. "We knew that the last six weeks, that's not the hitter he is. He just kind of lost focus for some reason, started coming out of his comfort zone and started swinging at too many pitches, expanding the strike zone. But he looks much better right now. Hopefully he'll finish strong and be confident going into next year."

Herrera's RBI double

QUOTABLE
"He's been a pleasant surprise, a guy that came out of nowhere. He wasn't even on the radar for the last couple years because of injuries. He's done a lot of good things. He's made a good impression for the future." -- Mackanin, on Joseph

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Joseph might be tied with Larry Hisle for fifth place on the Phillies' all-time rookies home run list, but only Howard hit homers at a faster pace as a Phillies rookie. Howard hit a homer every 14.18 at-bats in 2005. Joseph is knocking a homer every 14.50 at-bats.

WHAT'S NEXT
Marlins: Andrew Cashner will look to help the Marlins avoid a sweep at 1:35 ET on Sunday when he takes the mound in his first start since he lasted only two-plus innings and allowed seven runs to the Braves on Monday. In eight starts since the Marlins acquired Cashner from the Padres at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, he has a 6.13 ERA.

Phillies: Right-hander Alec Asher (1-0, 1.46 ERA) can help the Phillies sweep the Marlins with a strong performance in Sunday afternoon's series finale at Citizens Bank Park. After struggling in nine starts last season, Asher has impressed in his first two starts this year. He has allowed just six hits and two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings in starts against the Nationals and Pirates.

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Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia and covered the Marlins on Saturday.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.