ST. LOUIS -- On Friday, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler called center fielder Odubel Herrera one of the most exciting players in the game. Lately, the 26-year-old is proving his skipper right.Herrera homered and drove in three runs to lead the Phillies to a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday
ST. LOUIS -- On Friday, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler called center fielder Odubel Herrera one of the most exciting players in the game. Lately, the 26-year-old is proving his skipper right.
Herrera homered and drove in three runs to lead the Phillies to a 7-6 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon. Herrera extended his on-base streak to 45 games in the process, the longest in the Majors since Atlanta's Freddie Freeman reached safely in 46 straight in 2016.
"Right now, we have a lot of confidence and we're playing very well," Herrera said. "The team is doing very good work -- the bullpen, the hitters -- and I think we're doing an amazing job."
Herrera belted a John Gant changeup over the right-field wall for a two-run homer to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the third. He also drove in another on a fielder's choice to break a 3-all tie in the fifth, with another run scoring on the play on a Jedd Gyorko throwing error.
"I was ready to hit the fastball," Herrera said, of the homer. "I just recognized the pitch and hit it hard."
In the first three games of the Phillies' four-game series in St. Louis, Herrera has hit .308 (4-for-13) with a homer and six RBIs. He also made a nice running catch in Friday's night's win.
"He continues to find the barrel," Kapler said. "Talk about no situation is too big -- it seems like every at-bat is identical for him. He's walking up to the plate looking to smash a ball into the gaps."
Jorge Alfaro capped a two-run eighth inning rally with an pinch-hit RBI infield single, after Scott Kingery's triple off Cardinals reliever Greg Holland (0-2) tied the game at six. Alfaro, who left Friday night's game with right knee soreness, was originally in the starting lineup, but was a late scratch after testing his knee on the field.
"He's been swinging the bat well for a considerable period of time now," Kapler said. "He's had good at-bats. He's more composed at the plate. He's swinging at more strikes and he's been making more solid contact, and he always has the capability to take you deep, and that could be a nice profile for a big pinch-hit."
Alfaro replaced Andrew Knapp, who was checked by trainers after taking a Tommy Hunter warm-up pitch off of his fingers in the sixth. Kapler said Knapp was fine.
The rally made a winner out of Hunter (1-0), who had surrendered an RBI double to Matt Carpenter in the seventh that gave the Cardinals a 6-5 lead.
Phillies starter Zach Eflin gave up four runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four against three walks and four hits, and did not return after a 44-minute rain delay halted play in the fifth.
"I felt great, obviously cruised through the first three innings," Eflin said. "Once I got in the stretch, I kind of lost my rhythm a little bit."
Seranthony Dominguez pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn his first Major League save.
"I felt extremely happy, as you can imagine," Dominguez said through an interpreter. "It's a pretty good moment for me."
Cesar Hernandez had a pair of hits, reached three times and scored twice for the Phillies.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After taking a 6-5 lead in the seventh, the Cardinals were poised to tack on at least one more run with Carpenter at third and one out. But Hunter got Marcell Ozuna to ground to a drawn-in Pedro Florimon, who threw out Carpenter at home to keep the deficit at one.
Herrera moved past Chuck Klein for the fourth-longest on-base streak in Phillies franchise history. He trails only Mike Schmidt (56 games), Klein (49) and Bobby Abreu (48).
HE SAID IT
"In many ways, that felt like the biggest win of the year for us. A tough Cardinals team. They're kind of similar to us, in some ways: They're aggressive, but they'll battle you to the end. I thought all of our guys did a great job, specifically giving a lot of credit to how we came back during the delay. It takes mental toughness to come back after that and be as strong as we were." -- Kapler
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies seemed well on their way toward escaping a two-on, no-out jam in the fourth when Maikel Franco turned a Jose Martinez grounder into an athletic double play. But the Cardinals challenged the ruling that Franco's throw across the diamond beat Martinez to first. Martinez was ruled safe after a 1-minute, 29-second review, after which a throwing error and Gyorko's two-run single plated three runs to tie the game.
The Cardinals made another challenge after Kolten Wong was ruled out leading off the eighth. This time the call went the Phillies' way, as the call stood and Wong was ruled out. Dominguez went on to retire the Cardinals in order.
Aaron Nola (6-1, 1.99 ERA) gets the call as the Phillies finish up a four-game series against the Cardinals and Jack Flaherty (0-1, 2.87 ERA) on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET. Nola has given up just two runs in his last three starts and has a 0.88 ERA and a 21-to-3 strikeout to walk ratio during that span.
Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis.