PHILADELPHIA -- Slowly, Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez seems to be getting there.He allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday night in a 7-4 victory over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. It is the Phillies' fifth victory in a row, matching their longest winning streak since a six-game run
PHILADELPHIA -- Slowly, Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez seems to be getting there.
He allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings Wednesday night in a 7-4 victory over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. It is the Phillies' fifth victory in a row, matching their longest winning streak since a six-game run from April 26 to May 1 of last season. They improved to 10-9 and are above .500 for the first time since winning on Opening Day.
Velasquez overpowered hitters in his first two starts, but he also threw a ton of pitches, partially due to his high strikeout numbers. He rung up 17 batters in nine innings in those two starts.
Velasquez then pitched six innings last week against the Mets and recorded an out in the seventh inning Wednesday, striking out just five hitters combined in those two starts. It helped that he threw 19 first-pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced.
"Even though he's not striking people out like we know he can and will, he's using all of his pitches and he got us into that seventh inning, which was huge," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Velasquez, whose last six decisions have all been losses.
Velasquez also hit a leadoff single against Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen in the third, which culminated in a Maikel Franco grand slam.
"Just that little inning there," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the Phillies' four-run third. "I thought [Chen] was throwing the ball well early. I think he missed a spot there. He was trying to get the ball up and in on their third baseman there."
The Phillies silenced Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna. They entered the game hitting .293 with 49 RBIs, but went 0-for-11 with a walk and a sacrifice fly.
"That was huge," Velasquez said. "Those guys are pretty much the heart of the lineup. Managed to put them down, even though I had that walk. If I got those guys out, it's going to be a good ballgame, and today was a good one."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Second slam: Franco entered the game hitting .171 with three home runs and 16 RBIs, but he ripped a grand slam to left-center field in the third inning to hand the Phillies a 4-2 lead. Franco finished the night 3-for-4. He was 2-for-19 with the bases loaded entering this season, and is 3-for-5 this season with 10 RBIs.
Coming up short in the seventh: The Marlins had a runner on second and the tying run at the plate with one out in the seventh inning when left-hander Joely Rodriguez entered the game. He got Ichiro Suzuki to line out to third for the second out, but the Marlins caught a huge break when Franco threw to second baseman Cesar Hernandez to double up Adeiny Hechavarria. Instead of Hernandez touching the bag he tried to tag Hechavarria instead. But the Marlins could not cash in as Dee Gordon grounded out to end the inning.
"I thought [Velasquez] did a pretty good job, especially after the first couple of innings," Mattingly said. "We got through the third and we're up 2-0 there. After that, it seemed like we kind of stalled there and then we started putting something together again. We started to put something together there in the seventh. Just too little, too late."
"The last time I did well, so of course, you want to repeat that feeling and take it into your next game. Unfortunately we had two off-days and the rain in between. That's not something you can control." -- Chen, on going eight days between his seven no-hit innings at Seattle to giving up four runs in five innings on Wednesday
"I needed to pick a song so I asked my agent for some help. He said, 'Remember, Rocky Balboa is from Philly. They might like it here.'" -- Phillies right-hander Hector Neris, on why he chose Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" as his entrance music in the ninth inning. Neris is the Phillies' unofficial closer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Martin Prado, who homered for the Marlins in the third inning, now has 17 homers and 74 RBIs in his career against the Phillies, his most against any opponent.
Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr both extended hittings streaks to eight games Wednesday. During those stretches, Galvis is hitting .313 and Altherr is hitting .393.
SAUNDERS' FIRST WITH PHILLIES
Michael Saunders hit his first home run with the Phillies in the eighth inning, a 411-foot upper-deck shot to right field, according to Statcast™.
Marlins: Tuesday's rainout pushed all the Miami starters back one day, which now lines Edinson Volquez (0-2, 4.82) up to pitch the 1:05 p.m. ET series finale on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. In his career, Volquez is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two previous starts vs. Philadelphia, the last coming in 2014.
Phillies: Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (3-0, 1.88 ERA) pitches the series finale against the Marlins. He could not have started his 2017 season much better. He has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his four starts, pitching seven innings in each of his last two.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.
Ben Harris is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.