Alfaro's 2-run shot leads Phillies past A's

Alfaro's 2-run shot leads Phillies past A's

PHILADELPHIA -- Catcher Jorge Alfaro's two-out, two-run homer with the score tied in the bottom of the sixth inning lifted the Phillies to a 5-3 win over the Athletics on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.

For the second day in a row, Oakland took an early lead with a Matt Olson two-run homer, this one against Phillies starter Ben Lively in the second. But the game was interrupted by rain after one pitch was thrown in the bottom of the third, forcing both managers to go to their bullpens early when play resumed after a delay of an hour and 46 minutes.

"We lost a little momentum, we lost our best starting pitcher, so it didn't work out well for us, but we didn't play too terribly well after the delay either," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Alfaro on Phillies' win at home

While there's a possibility the A's could use Graveman, who threw only 26 pitches, essentially a bullpen session with a bigger audience, before his next scheduled start, Melvin said they'd probably steer clear.

The homer was Olson's 20th on the season. Since Aug. 10, he ranks tied for third in baseball with 16 homers.

"He's swinging the bat great, he's really running with it since he's gotten the opportunity to play everyday," Melvin said.

Neris earns his 21st save

That delay worked to the Phillies' advantage. Yacksel Rios, Victor Arano, Hoby Milner, Edubray Ramos and Luis Garcia combined to pitch five hitless innings, while the offense scored single runs in the third and fourth to set up Alfaro's game-winner, and Hector Neris earned the save despite giving up a solo homer to Jed Lowrie with one out in the ninth.

"Any time you can run anybody up there that's a threat to hit a home run, that's great," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "The more guys you have. It's good to see anybody with power, and obviously Alfaro has plus power."

Patience pays off: One reason the Phillies are high on infielder J.P. Crawford, their No. 1 draft pick in 2013, is that he knows how to work a base on balls. He demonstrated that skill in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and nobody on in a tie game, Crawford kept the inning alive when he was walked by Athletics reliever Simon Castro. So when Alfaro followed with a home run, it not only gave the Phillies some insurance but meant that Oakland couldn't bring the tying run to the plate after that without getting a runner on.

Crawford's 6th-inning walk

Shaking off the rust: Not only did the lengthy rain delay quiet the A's offense, their defense upon the game's resumption replaced the Phillies' goose egg with a run in the third. With two outs on the board, Ty Kelly, pinch-hitting for Lively, shot a liner to left that A's outfielder Matt Joyce dived for. The ball skipped off the wet grass past Joyce and Kelly jogged into second. One pitch later, Cesar Hernandez singled home Kelly on a hanging changeup from Chris Smith.

Kelly's two-out pinch-hit double

Should Joyce have sold out with the risky dive with two outs?

"It depends on whether he thinks he can catch it or not," Melvin said. "If he thinks he can catch it, then you go ahead and try, and obviously he did."

"When Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek were traded, everybody kind of thought our bullpen was going to scuffle. But they've been outstanding." -- Mackanin, on the fact that his bullpen had a streak of 18 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings until Neris gave up a solo homer in the ninth

So Crawford walked on four straight pitches after getting down 0-2 to Oakland reliever Simon Castro with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Then Alfaro jumped on Castro's next pitch, a fastball, for the game-winning home run. Does that mean Crawford should get some credit for leading the pitcher to throw one down the middle? Not according to Mackanin.

"I wouldn't go that far," the manager said. "I always like to see somebody walk after going 0-2. But it wasn't due to the walk that he hit the home run. Let's give Alfaro some credit."

A's: Left-hander Sean Manaea (10-10, 4.65 ERA) starts the rubber game for Oakland on Sunday at 10:35 a.m. PT, a good matchup for the 25-year-old against a Phillies club that has struggled against lefties this year.

Phillies: The Phillies will finish their series against the Athletics, and close out interleague play for the year, with a 1:35 p.m. ET game Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. It will also be what manager Pete Mackanin called an "audition" for right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who is trying to come back from two shoulder surgeries. He was signed as a Minor League free agent on Aug. 22 after not having pitched in the big leagues since May 2015 for the Marlins.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for and covered the Phillies on Saturday.

Ben Harris is a reporter for based in Philadelphia and covered the A's on Saturday.

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