PITTSBURGH -- Jacob Arrieta could make July even more interesting for the Phillies, if he continues to pitch like he pitched Saturday at PNC Park.
The veteran right-hander allowed two runs in seven innings in a 3-2 victory over the Pirates. He struck out eight and walked one. He got 13 swings and misses, one short of his season high. Arrieta's first win since May 29 helped the Phillies remain in a first-place tie with the Braves in the National League East and extended their winning streak to a season-high six games, putting them in position to sweep the Pirates on Sunday and have their first seven-game winning streak since September 2012.
"We're a very resilient group," said Arrieta, whose team is an MLB-best 19-7 in one-run games.
Arrieta was 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA following a dominant performance against the Dodgers on May 29. He went 0-4 with a 6.16 ERA in his next six starts, although the Phillies' porous defense did him no favors along the way.
Arrieta allowed a run in the first inning and a solo homer to Starling Marte in the third before retiring 15 of the final 17 batters he faced. He gave the Phillies a chance to win the game, and they took advantage. After Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon held Philadelphia to just two hits in six innings, it scored three runs in the seventh to take a 3-2 lead.
"We knew if Jake just kind of kept us in the game, we were going to find the time to break out," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Now, it was a very different style of game than yesterday's game. Their starter deserves some credit. Taillon did a really good job and attacked with some really good stuff. And we were just outs early in the game. But we maintained that confidence, and I think we do that in all of those one-run games. And winning one-run games is dependent on talent, too. And we have a lot of talent."
Arrieta pitched a scoreless seventh to maintain the lead.
"Delivery is really close to where I want it to be," the right-hander said.
If Arrieta returns to the form that made him so effective early in the season, the Phillies could make a serious move in the NL standings this month. They play 16 of their next 19 games, including their final nine games before the All-Star break, against teams with losing records.
If the Phillies separate themselves from other postseason hopefuls, perhaps it influences the front office's thinking before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Sources have told MLB.com that the Phillies are inclined to pursue help on the left side of the infield, bullpen and possibly a bench bat.
Manny Machado? They would love him, but not at the current asking price.
"There's some areas of need," Arrieta said. "But having said that, the team that we have right now is capable of winning the division, there's no doubt in my mind. We've shown flashes of it -- a well-rounded starting rotation, a lineup that will scratch and claw for runs, and every once in a while we'll put up 10 or 11 runs. We're capable of doing it with the group we have here. It wouldn't surprise me if we did make a move, but how big of a move remains to be seen.
"If you make a really big move, you probably have to give up some prospects or maybe a Major League-ready guy that you don't necessarily want to give up for a chance to maybe have that guy only for a couple of months, and then you don't know if you can sign them in free agency. So it's a tough decision, and that's why Matt [Klentak] and Ned [Rice] and the rest of the guys in the front office have to really decide what the priority is."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Get a good pitch and attack:Odubel Herrera hustled down the first-base line to reach on an infield single with one out in the seventh. Carlos Santana hit into a fielder's choice for the second out, but Nick Williams ripped an 0-2 pitch for a triple to right field to score Santana and cut Pittsburgh's lead to 2-1. Scott Kingery, who had four hits Friday, laced a single on a first-pitch slider to center field to score Williams and tie the game. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle pulled Taillon after just 77 pitches for Edgar Santana, who allowed a first-pitch double to Jorge Alfaro to score Kingery and hand the Phillies a 3-2 lead.
"It wasn't the knock-the-starter-out-of-the-game approach because we knew we weren't there," Kapler said. "And it probably wasn't going to be a grind-through-their-bullpen kind of game. So at that point, you can change your approach a little bit and attack the first pitch in the count. We were doing that earlier in the game, and then at that point, it's just pick out the pitch you can drive to the gap and go after it. I think we saw a little bit of that today."
Dominguez, Arano deliver:Seranthony Dominguez pitched a scoreless eighth, and Victor Arano pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second save. Arano allowed a leadoff double when a ball dropped just in front of left fielder Rhys Hoskins down the left-field line. Arano struck out Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer swinging before David Freese flied out to center to end the game.
"My confidence level is pretty high," Arano said through the team's interpreter. "I'm a confident guy. I have belief in my stuff. When I get ahead in the count or when I throw that first strike, my confidence level gets even higher. Because I know I have real good pitches, real good stuff. I've got movement on my pitches. I can strike guys out with the slider or the high fastball. I have good velocity. I'm confident in my stuff."
The Phillies saw 236 pitches in Friday night's 17-5 victory, which lasted an NL-record 4 hours, 30 minutes. The Phillies saw 124 pitches Saturday. The game lasted 2 hours, 48 minutes.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Williams somehow avoided the tag at third base on a nice slide. How did he do it? Even he isn't sure.
"I don't know," the right fielder said. "I was just an athlete, I guess. A lot of the things I do, I can't really explain. It's just a reaction."
HE SAID IT
"We saw him really good in Philly earlier in the season. He was effective. We scratched a couple runs. We got the pitch count up early through three innings. After that, he seemed to settle in and the execution of pitches was much cleaner, much more precise." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Arrieta
Drew Anderson (5-3, 4.15 ERA with Triple-A Lehigh Valley) will make his 2018 debut against the Pirates in the series finale Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET at PNC Park. Anderson, the Phillies' No. 21 prospect, appeared in two games in relief for the club in '17. The Pirates will counter with Nick Kingham (2-4, 4.70) looking to avoid the sweep.