MILWAUKEE -- Maikel Franco is not a forgotten man. Not yet.Franco still shows up at the ballpark every day. He still puts on a Phillies uniform and takes batting practice and prepares to play. But just a couple weeks ago, the club decided to push Franco onto the bench to
MILWAUKEE -- Maikel Franco is not a forgotten man. Not yet.
Franco still shows up at the ballpark every day. He still puts on a Phillies uniform and takes batting practice and prepares to play. But just a couple weeks ago, the club decided to push Franco onto the bench to get a longer look at J.P. Crawford at third base and Scott Kingery at shortstop. His playing time has become scarce, but in an increasingly rare start against a right-handed pitcher Sunday afternoon at Miller Park, he went 2-for-3 with a home run, walk and four RBIs in a 10-9 victory over the Brewers.
"Mikey has shown an incredible attitude recently," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's come to the ballpark and prepared, even when he has not been in the lineup."
The Phillies needed every one of Franco's RBIs, as Hector Neris allowed four runs in the ninth inning to cut a comfortable five-run lead to one. Philadelphia has won back-to-back series for the first time since April 9-15.
"If I say it's not hard, I'm lying," Franco said. "I know it's hard, I know it's tough. But I don't want to think about what's happening right now. I just want to think about when I get the opportunity to be in the lineup, I just want to do my best and help my team win."
Franco made his second start since June 6 perhaps because he entered the day 4-for-8 with two home runs and four RBIs in his career against Brewers starter Chase Anderson. Franco hit a two-run home run to left field on a 3-2 curveball from Anderson in the fourth inning to give the Phillies a 4-2 lead.
It was Franco's first extra-base hit since May 26, when he last homered.
"I see the ball really good off [Anderson]," Franco said. "He's got a changeup, [curveball] and fastball. The first two home runs were changeups, so I just eliminated the changeup and was more confident with the [curveball] and fastball. He got me in the first AB with a [curveball], so I knew at some point they were going to throw it again. I was just ready for it."
Franco walked to load the bases with one out in the sixth, and Nick Williams followed with a single to center field to score two runs and give the Phillies a 6-4 lead. Then in the seventh, the Brewers intentionally walked Carlos Santana to load the bases to face Franco with two outs, and he laced a single to center field to score two and give the Phillies an 8-5 lead.
"No doubt about it," Franco said when asked if the Santana walk motivated him.
Franco's bat backed Phillies starter Aaron Nola, who struggled for the first time in a long time. Nola has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, but he allowed four runs in just 4 1/3 innings. It is the first time in more than a year that he has not pitched at least five innings and just the second time this season he has allowed more than three runs in a start.
So does one game actually change anything for Franco? Can he expect maybe a little more playing time in the near future?
"It's very much a fluid situation," Kapler said. "They're all going to get their reps. Sometimes you have to be patient for them to come back around."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the Nick of time: Williams laced a single to center field to score two runs in the sixth inning to give Philadelphia a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Williams is hitting .250 with seven home runs, 16 RBIs and an .869 OPS since hitting a three-run pinch-hit home run May 13 in a victory over the Mets.
"That was a huge moment in the game," Kapler said.
Thompson saves: Neris needed just eight pitches to earn a save in a spotless ninth inning on Saturday, but he allowed four runs in the ninth on Sunday before Kapler pulled him with two outs for Jake Thompson, who joined the team on Saturday as a long reliever. Kapler said he wanted to stay away from Edubray Ramos, who had pitched the past two days. Christian Yelich crushed a first-pitch fastball to center field off Thompson, but Odubel Herrera, whose homer in the ninth proved to be the game-winner, caught the ball at the wall.
The Brewers snapped Nola's streak of 35 consecutive starts of five or more innings pitched. It is the longest streak by a Phillies pitcher since Cole Hamels' 45-start streak from May 6, 2014 to July 5, 2015. Curt Schilling holds the franchise record (87 starts from May 27, 1997 to May 18, 2000).
"My command really wasn't where it usually is," Nola said. "My fastball was cutting a little bit and missing off the plate a little bit. They had a good approach against me."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hoskins hit a towering two-run home run to left field in the first inning. It had a launch angle of 43 degrees, making it the highest home run hit by a Phillies player since Tommy Joseph hit a 47-degree moonshot on Sept. 7, 2017. Hoskins is hitting .333 with two doubles, four home runs, 11 RBIs and a 1.200 OPS in eight games since returning from the disabled list because of a broken jaw.
"He is setting the tone for us in a big way," Kapler said.
HE SAID IT
"I've never seen it. I've seen a lot of baseball, but there's a lot of people around me that have seen a lot more. I asked [bench coach Rob Thomson], 'Have you ever seen it?' He said he's never seen it. [Home-plate umpire] Laz Diaz came over. He's seen a lot of baseball. He said I've never seen anything like that before. A lot of respect for anybody who can step behind the mound, throw up and get back up on the mound and pitch. A lot of respect for him." -- Kapler, on Brewers pitcher Adrian Houser, who vomited twice behind the mound in the eighth inning
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies won a challenge in the fifth inning when Yelich appeared to reach base on a bad throw from Franco. But while Franco's throw took Santana off the bag, replay clearly showed that Santana tagged Yelich before he reached first base. The giveaway? Santana's tag caused Yelich's defensive positioning card to fly out of his back pocket. The call was overturned and Yelich was out. It proved to be a big out, as Lorenzo Cain followed with a walk and scored on Travis Shaw's double to cut the Phillies' lead to 4-3.
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.25 ERA) faces Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas (7-2, 2.43) on Monday night in the first game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Pivetta is hoping to get back on track after struggling in June. He went 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA in his first 11 starts this season but is 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA in three starts this month.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.