PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies may have the fewest wins in the Major Leagues, but they scored two big ones this weekend against the sagging Brewers.Nick Williams hit a two-run opposite-field homer and drove in three, and Howie Kendrick bounced a go-ahead single up the middle amid a four-run Phillies fifth
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies may have the fewest wins in the Major Leagues, but they scored two big ones this weekend against the sagging Brewers.
Nick Williams hit a two-run opposite-field homer and drove in three, and Howie Kendrick bounced a go-ahead single up the middle amid a four-run Phillies fifth in a 6-3 win on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies have won back-to-back series for the first time since the third week of April.
"That's the impressive thing about him, he has that opposite-field power," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Williams. "I saw in the spring and realized he had power. But when he joined us recently, just watching him take batting practice, it really struck me how much power he has to dead center and to the opposite field. That could bode well in this ballpark."
It marked the sixth loss in the first seven games of a three-city road trip for the Brewers, who fell into a first-place tie in the National League Central with the Cubs, who beat the Cardinals, 5-3, later in the night.
"The most important thing is keeping a strong mindset," said Brewers starter Junior Guerra, who was charged with five earned runs in four-plus innings and took the loss. "When things are going down, you don't get down on yourself. Keep thinking positive, keep working hard and hope that things turn around."
Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff surrendered a two-out, two-run single to Brewers leadoff man Jonathan Villar for a brief tie in the fifth inning, but Philadelphia answered with four runs in the bottom of the frame against Guerra and two Brewers relievers.
• Small things hopefully positive signs for Villar
Eickhoff bounced back nicely from a loss at Miami six days earlier, allowing two runs on three Brewers hits in six innings, with two walks and six strikeouts. Both Eickhoff and his manager noted his fastball command, and the ability for his curveball to play off of it, as keys Sunday.
With Phillies closer Hector Neris having thrown the previous two nights, Mackanin gave Luis Garcia the ball to close out the series win, notching his first save of the season and third of his career.
For the Brewers, Guerra was out of the game before recording an out in the decisive fifth inning and saw his ERA swell to 5.22. Milwaukee's Opening Day starter has been unable to replicate last season, when Guerra posted a 2.81 ERA in 20 starts as the leader of the staff.
"There's no question, it's been different. I think that's true," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Guerra's slide into survival mode. "Today was a little bit of what we've seen in the past, struggling to get ahead of hitters and putting yourself in bad spots. You're kind of causing that survival mode because you're behind in the count."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Four-score: Kendrick's go-ahead hit came against Brewers reliever Michael Blazek, who took over with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth after Eickhoff's second hit of the afternoon, Cesar Hernandez's walk and Freddy Galvis' bunt single against Guerra. Blazek went ahead in the count, 0-2, then jammed Kendrick with a high and tight fastball at 93.6 mph. Kendrick managed to muscle it through the middle of the infield, right under Blazek's glove, for a two-run single and a 4-2 lead.
The Phillies scored twice more in the inning after Josh Hader replaced Blazek and shortstop Orlando Arcia bobbled Williams' potential double play grounder for an error.
"We were going fastball up and in, and I felt like I put it right where I wanted to, maybe even a little up of where we were trying to go," Blazek said. "I feel like it's been like that this whole road trip so far. We're making pitches, and seem to be getting burned on some weaker contact. … What are you going to do? I threw the pitch I wanted to, right where it was supposed to be."
Last gasp: The Brewers' best chance to claw back into the game came in the eighth, when Ryan Braun just missed a two-run homer against Phillies reliever Joaquin Benoit. Braun's deep drive to right field hit the metal barrier atop the wall for a long RBI double, cutting the deficit to 6-3 and bringing Milwaukee RBI leader Travis Shaw to the plate. After a mound visit, Benoit struck out Shaw with a slider, ending the inning.
"That's the kind of command I want to have every time out. And when I was missing, I was just missing and I was able to adjust to it and throw it back in the zone, throw it out of the zone. It's huge to set up my curveball and the slider as well." -- Eickhoff, on his improved fastball command
Video: MIL@PHI: Eickhoff fans six in win, collects two hits
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Brewers: The Brewers begin a tough week against the Nationals and Cubs with Tuesday's 6:05 p.m. CT series opener in Washington D.C. Zach Davies is 4-0 with a 3.16 ERA over his last five starts entering his matchup with well-traveled Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson.
Phillies: The Phillies and Astros face off for the first time since 2014 in a three-game set beginning at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. Vince Velasquez gets the ball against the team that drafted him in the second round in 2010.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia and covered the Phillies on Sunday.