PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera asked his doubters to bet on him a week ago. Hope they did.Herrera crushed a game-winning home run in the seventh inning of Wednesday afternoon's 4-3 victory over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. He has homered in four consecutive games and five
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera asked his doubters to bet on him a week ago. Hope they did.
Herrera crushed a game-winning home run in the seventh inning of Wednesday afternoon's 4-3 victory over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. He has homered in four consecutive games and five times in the past six games as Philadelphia has won three consecutive series for the first time since April. The Phils' maligned bullpen pitched three scoreless innings to preserve the victory, setting up a big series this weekend against the Nationals at Nationals Park.
"When I told you that you should bet on me, I meant it," Herrera said through the team's interpreter. "I knew that I was getting close to being my regular self."
Herrera is hitting .419 (13-for-31) with two doubles, five home runs, eight RBIs and a 1.405 OPS in the past seven games. Herrera's style of play drew comparisons to Ichiro Suzuki from Phillies manager Gabe Kapler and to Vladimir Guerrero from Jacob Arrieta. Both mentioned Herrera's remarkable hand-eye coordination with the bat.
"It's actually very satisfying to be compared to legends like them," Herrera said. "Because that means maybe one day I can be one, too."
He isn't a legend yet?
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Herrera said, laughing.
Herrera crushed a 2-1 slider from Cardinals right-hander Sam Tuivailala to right field to hand the Phillies a one-run lead in the seventh. Herrera said he knew immediately it would leave the park. He admired his handiwork a moment before flipping his bat and trotting around the bases.
How did it feel coming off the bat?
"Fresh," Herrera said. "In a way, it was very satisfying, because I could see how the pitcher was trying to mess up my timing, so we had a good battle going on, and I won it."
Left-hander Adam Morgan won a battle, too. Morgan blew a save in the ninth inning twice this month. He allowed a walk-off grand slam to Jason Heyward at Wrigley Field on June 6. Morgan also allowed a game-tying single to Kolten Wong in the ninth inning on Monday.
Fans booed as Morgan entered the game with a runner on second and one out in the ninth. He said he never heard them.
But Morgan got Matt Carpenter to pop out to third baseman Maikel Franco in foul territory with Franco running a long way to make the catch. Morgan then got Tommy Pham to ground out to Scott Kingery to end the game, with Kingery making the play despite pinch-runner Yairo Munoz being in front of him as the ball approached.
It was Morgan's first career save.
"It's hard not thinking about what just happened, but it's part of the game," Morgan said. "It's the mental part of the game and you can't sucked into that trap. It is never as bad as it is, and it is never as good as it is."
The Phillies have been playing relatively well lately, winning seven of their past 10 games. They are 39-33. Washington entered Wednesday night's game against Baltimore a half-game ahead of Philadelphia for the second National League Wild Card.
"I think coming off this series, we anticipate a highly-competitive series against a good ballclub on the road, and it seems like we're ready for that challenge." Arrieta said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hail, Cesar: Cesar Hernandez hit a two-run home run to right field in the fourth inning to hand the Phillies a 3-1 lead. It was his eighth homer of the season. Hernandez's batting average (.256) and OPS (.752) dropped to season lows on June 14, but he has hit .333 (7-for-21) with one double, three RBIs and a .798 OPS in his past five games.
Seven Phils pitchers have earned a save this season: Hector Neris (10), Seranthony Dominguez (three), Jake Thompson (two), Edubray Ramos (one), Luis Garcia (one), Tommy Hunter (one) and Morgan (one). Philadelphia has not had this many pitchers record a save in a season since 2007, when a franchise-record nine pitchers accomplished the feat: Brett Myers (21), Antonio Alfonseca (eight), Tom Gordon (six), Clay Condrey (two), J.D. Durbin (one), Jose Mesa (one), Chad Durbin (one), Ryan Madson (one), Francisco Rosario (one) and John Ennis (one).
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Arrieta allowed four hits, three runs, two walks and struck out five in six innings. He entered the afternoon with the fifth-lowest home run rate (2.2 percent) out of 98 qualified pitchers in baseball (minimum 200 pitches), according to Statcast™. But Arrieta allowed two game-tying home runs to Yadier Molina: a solo homer to left field in the second and a two-run homer to right in the sixth. Molina entered the game hitting .200 (6-for-30) with one homer, two RBIs, one walk and 11 strikeouts in his career against Arrieta.
"It's just tough to come out after the sixth, giving up the two-run homer to Yadi, second of the day," Arrieta said. "But at least I was able to keep it close, keep the team in it and our offense was good today. Had some really nice at-bats. And obviously, Odubel with the go-ahead homer in the seventh was huge for us. He's starting to get hot again."
HE SAID IT
"It's a possibility. We're reading and reacting to what's happening on the field, so because there's not an alternate universe, I can't tell you for sure." -- Kapler, if he would have allowed Victor Arano to remain in the game in the ninth if he retired the first two batters
The Phillies and Nationals will play seven times by July 1, beginning with a 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch at Nationals Park on Friday night. Zach Eflin (4-2, 3.43 ERA) will start after allowing one run in five innings against the Brewers last week. He has a 1.93 ERA in three June starts, all of which were wins. Washington has yet to announce a starter.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.