Harper homers, Wheeler K’s 8 in Phillies’ win over Rockies
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper rounded the bases on his 31st homer of the season to “MVP! MVP!” chants. It’s the sound of September the Phillies can only hope they hear deep into October.
Zack Wheeler steadied the slumping Phillies with eight strikeouts to lead Philadelphia to a 6-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Odubel Herrera’s two-RBI bunt double and Jean Segura’s solo homer helped the Phillies snap a four-game losing streak that had them fading from the NL East playoff race. The Phillies entered 4½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.
“It’s not like we have months and months of games,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “This is the time of the year you play the best baseball. Those are the teams that are in the playoffs. And we have not played well in the past 10 games.”
No. 11 was good enough.
Harper and Girardi both expressed their dissatisfaction after the Phillies were blown out 11-2 on Friday night. Harper said he was embarrassed by Philadelphia’s performance. Girardi was short in his comments but noted he was “not happy” with his team.
The Phillies are going to need more games like Saturday -- lots more, fast -- to have any chance at catching the Braves.
Harper hit a solo shot in the seventh and helped end the eighth when his relay throw to Segura nailed C.J Cron at the plate.
Harper has five home runs in his last seven games and has a hit in 17 of his last 18 games. He’s batting .394 (26-for-66) with six doubles, eight homers, 19 RBIs, 11 walks and a 1.323 OPS over that span.
It helps when Wheeler (13-9) is on the mound.
Wheeler, who reached 1,000 career strikeouts, won his third straight start and tossed at least six innings in his 11th straight start. He left with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.
Jose Alvarado retired Charlie Blackmon on a grounder to end the threat.
The Phillies loaded the bases against Kyle Freeland (5-8) in the fourth and the lefty forced in a run on a walk. Herrera then beat the Rockies’ shift with a bunt down third that rolled so far down the line, the speedy outfielder landed on second with a double and a 3-0 lead.
“You don’t look to see a guy bunt with the bases loaded and the pitcher on deck,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Maybe there was a little bit of an element of surprise there. Very unique outcome to a very unique play.”
Segura homered in the fifth.
It looked as if the Phillies were in good shape to make up ground on Atlanta when they began a stretch on Thursday of 14 of 17 games at home against teams that were a combined 113 games under .500. But Colorado followed Thursdays 4-3, ninth-inning comeback victory with a romp.
The Phillies’ frustration was on display Friday when Brad Miller slammed his bat into a dugout rack six times after being called out on strikes. On Saturday, he hit his third career pinch-hit homer in the seventh for a 5-1 lead.
Rockies shortstop Trevor Story made the play of the game when he robbed Segura of a hit. Story dove to his left and snagged the hard grounder with his outstretched glove, sat on his behind and nailed a one-hop throw to get Segura.
Story then spoiled Wheeler’s shutout bid in the sixth when he crushed his 21st homer of the season into the second deck. The hard-swinging, smooth-fielding shortstop is in the last year of his deal and appears in line for a hefty payday.
“That ball was smoked,” Black said.
The Phillies designated RHP Vince Velasquez for assignment. Velasquez went 30-40 with a 4.93 ERA and made 116 starts over six seasons with the Phillies. His lone winning season came when he went 8-6 in 2016.
“We just felt it was the move to do. We are going more with the bullpen game than the fifth starter,” Girardi said. “We needed relievers in those situations.”
Rockies: LF Sam Hilliard left the game in the third inning after he was by a pitch in the elbow. Raimel Tapia replaced him. Tapia was ejected for arguing in the seventh.
Phillies: Reinstated OF Matt Joyce off the 60-day IL and recalled OF Mickey Moniak and RHP Adonis Medina from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. RHP’s Enyel De Los Santos and Ramón Rosso were optioned to Lehigh Valley. OF Travis Jankowski was placed on the 10-day IL (right foot contusion).
Larry Bowa, who managed the Phillies in 2001, caught the ceremonial first pitch and led this year’s team out of the dugout for the national anthem.
The Phillies send struggling RHP Aaron Nola (7-8, 4.57 ERA to the mound against Colorado RHP Ryan Feltner (0-1, 20.25).
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