Phillies vs. Marlins: JT Realmuto, Phils beat Sandy Alcantara

MIAMI — For a struggling offense, Sandy Alcantara was the last guy Phillies hitters wanted to see Friday night.

The Miami Marlins right-hander entered the game with a National League-best 1.73 ERA and a consecutive scoreless innings streak of 19.

By the start of the seventh inning, that scoreless innings streak was up to 25 and it wasn’t looking all that good for the Phillies.

Then something happened, something that hadn’t happened in five days, 41⅔ innings and a span of 148 batters.

A Phillies hitter drew a walk.

And that started it.

Desperately in need of a win after four straight losses, the Phillies rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh inning against one of the best pitchers in baseball and pulled out a tense 2-1 win over the Marlins at the ballpark in Little Havana .

The win, capped by Seranthony Dominguez surviving three ninth-inning walks for a 33-pitch save, left the Phils at 3-4 on the nine-game road trip that will take them to the All-Star break.

“Huge,” Rhys Hoskins, one of the seventh-inning difference-makers, said of the win. “Four losses in a row. We hadn’t played well. It’s just nice to bounce back against an ace. That’s that type of game we have to win late in the season down the stretch to get where we want to go.”

The Phillies opened the trip with a pair of wins in St. Louis by scores of 2-0 and 1-0. Zack Wheeler and Kyle Gibson pitched gems in those games and they needed to because the Phillies’ offense didn’t do a whole lot. In fact, one guy, Alec Bohm, drove in all the runs in the first two games.

The Phils lost the next two in St. Louis then two more in Toronto. They came into Miami on Friday night hitting just .196 and averaging two runs on the first six games of the trip.

It’s asking an awful lot of an offense to get right against Alcantara, who could be the NL starting pitcher in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

Maybe the Phils’ offense didn’t get right against Alcantara — they struck out a dozen times against him in eight innings and are still averaging just two runs per game on this trip — but the bats did enough in that seventh inning.

Alcantara opened the inning with his 10th strikeout of the night when he got Kyle Schwarber for a third time. Hoskins then drew a four-pitch walk, the Phillies’ first free pass since the first inning of Sunday’s game in St. Louis.

With Hoskins on first, Nick Castellanos singled out to right through a shift. The next batter, rookie designated hitter Darick Hall, stroked an opposite-field double to the left-field corner. It scored Hoskins with the tying run while Castellanos was cut down at the plate after running through a stop sign.

With two outs and a man on second, JT Realmuto laid a tough at-bat on Alcantara. He fouled off three pitches before stroking a changeup past third baseman Brian Anderson and into left field for a go-ahead double.

Before walking Hoskins, Alcantara had not walked a beater. He gave up only one hit through the first 6⅓ innings.

“That’s how you have to beat a guy like that,” manager Rob Thomson said. “Scratch out a couple of runs and play good defense. And our pitching did a great job.

“Seranthony lost the strike zone there in the ninth, but got it back and did a great job getting out of trouble. That was like a playoff game right there. Excellent pitching, grind out some runs, play good defense.”

While the Phillies’ rally in the seventh was timely and ultimately decisive, they do not win this game without the pitching.

Gibson delivered his second straight strong outing with six innings of one-run ball. Facing Alcantara, Gibson knew he had to keep the game close. He did and it paid off in the seventh as the Phils parlayed a walk and three hits into two runs.

“That’s what good offenses do against a pitcher like Alcantara,” Gibson said. “You know he’s going to be stingy. When he leaves the door open, you have to take advantage.”

With the lead, Jose Alvarado and Brad Hand combined for two scoreless innings. Dominguez survived a high-wire ninth. He got the final two outs with the bases loaded to earn the save.

The win left the Phils at 47-43 with a chance to gain ground in the wild-card race. Ranger Suarez will come off the injured list and start Saturday’s game. The Marlins will debut at rookie, right-hander Max Meyer. He was their top pick in the 2020 draft.

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