PHILADELPHIA -- Thursday’s game against the Phillies was beginning to have the feel of a slugfest. Seven runs had already crossed the plate between the two clubs by the fifth, and with nine more runners stranded on base during that time, every at-bat felt like it could open the floodgates.
Zach Davies had pitched well to that point; two of the three runs he had given up were unearned, but now he faced a one-out jam with runners at the corners and Jean Segura -- who had already taken Davies deep in the first inning -- stepping to the plate with Milwaukee clinging to what felt like a very unstable one-run lead.
Davies got ahead of Segura in the count before getting the shortstop to roll over on a sinker, starting a 4-6 3 double play.
“He made some big pitches; in the fifth inning, the double play to Segura was obviously a big point in the game,” manager Craig Counsell said. “He cruised through the sixth, ripped through the middle of their lineup really well. He was really good again; he’s doing a heck of a job, making quality pitches over and over again.”
Davies left the game after the sixth, having been pinch-hit for in the top of the seventh as the Brewers tacked on three of the seven insurance runs they scored over the final three frames. The pitcher could relax and watch as his team rolled to an 11-3 win, taking three of four from the NL East-leading Phillies.
“We played a couple good games here at the end, we battled, then the offense kind of opened up,” Davies said. “This was a good game for us. We had a tough [series] against Chicago, so coming in here and playing the way we did was a nice step in the right direction.”
Davies has been headed in the right direction all season, posting an MLB-best 1.54 ERA over his first nine starts. With his start Thursday -- he gave up three runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk, striking out five -- Davies improved to 5-0, holding his opponent to two-or-fewer earned runs for the ninth straight outing.
That’s the longest streak to start a season by any pitcher in Brewers history.
“It was more of the same, which is really good from Zach,” Counsell said. “He did an excellent job.”
Davies has been thriving all season, but his fellow starters have been catching up in recent weeks. Over the past 13 games, Milwaukee’s rotation has a 1.54 ERA, a key factor in the club’s 10-3 record during that stretch.
“Being able to get to the sixth or seventh inning each time out is cool for all of us,” Davies said. “A complete game is probably the ultimate goal for us, but just being out there to try to bridge that gap for the bullpen, make sure they don’t have to cover too much, that’s one of our goals.”
Even in the third inning, when Orlando Arcia’s two-error misplay gave the Phillies runners at second and third with nobody out, Davies did his part to minimize the damage. A ground out and a sacrifice fly brought the two runners home, but the Phillies were unable to turn it into the big inning they so desperately needed.
“Keeping it from becoming a rally and extending their lead was important for me,” Davies said. “It was a scenario where I had to battle, make quality pitches and continue on.”
The offense did its part Thursday, getting home runs from Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas and two blasts by Christian Yelich. Even Davies, who entered the game 1-for-16 (.063) did his part, doubling and scoring a run in the third, then punching a perfect bunt past Phillies starter Zach Eflin, good for his first RBI of the season and the first multi-hit game of his career.
“I got lucky with it being in the right spot,” Davies said with a grin.
The Brewers don’t feel lucky when Davies is on the mound; they feel confident. Based on the way he’s pitched this season, they should.
“He’s going deep in games for us,” Yelich said. “He’s being that guy we look to that, when he gets the ball, we really believe that he’s going to go deep and we’re going to have a great chance to win. He did that again today.”