PHILADELPHIA -- The fog machine seems to have vanished from the Phillies' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, but lasers, strobe lights and disco balls seem to have multiplied as the team piled up wins over the past week."I mean, it's been crazy," said Scott Kingery, who capped a memorable three
PHILADELPHIA -- The fog machine seems to have vanished from the Phillies' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, but lasers, strobe lights and disco balls seem to have multiplied as the team piled up wins over the past week.
"I mean, it's been crazy," said Scott Kingery, who capped a memorable three days Wednesday with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 12th inning of a 4-3 victory over the Reds. "I think that's the only way to put it, because I haven't had time to sit back and kind of look at it and say I hit my first home run [and grand slam] and walk-off and stuff like that.
"But more for me is that we had a really good homestand. For me, it's just fun playing with these guys, seeing everybody step up. It's someone new every night, it feels like."
The Phillies went 5-1 against the Marlins and Reds, who were swept, to improve to 6-5. It is the first time the Phillies have a winning record through the first 11 games of the season since 2011, when they were 8-3.
"Our guys are fighting, man," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "They're battling. They're grinding. They're definitely coming together and working really hard to look out for each other. Standing shoulder to shoulder. It feels good."
Kapler is putting a rough first week behind him. The Phillies opened the season 1-4 with plenty of controversy and criticism surrounding the rookie manager, who was booed loudly at Thursday's home opener.
His players have tried to make people forget. Wednesday helped. J.P. Crawford hit his first career home run in the second inning. Cesar Hernandez launched the longest home run of his career in the fifth. Kingery, starting in left field for the first time, threw out a runner at the plate in the sixth.
Nick Pivetta dominated. He allowed five hits, two runs and struck out seven in seven innings. He has allowed nine hits, two runs and struck out 16 in 12 2/3 innings in his last two starts.
"He was really fighting to stay in that game," Kapler said. "He knew that we were thinking about [pulling him]. He wanted that seventh inning. Actually, he verbalized it. It was really cool to see. So when I went out to talk to him [in the seventh], there was no question in his eyes. 'I want that inning.' In his body language: 'I want this inning.' The intensity demonstrated everything I needed to know."
If this is the Pivetta the National League should expect to see the rest of the season, the Phillies could cause teams fits.
"My number one thing is you've got to learn from your failures and I feel like right now -- I still have a lot to learn, I'm still young -- but I went through a lot last year and this year, I can kind of handle certain situations and minimize damage as much as I can," Pivetta said.
After Hector Neris blew the save in the ninth, Odubel Herrera saved the game by robbing a home run from Scooter Gennett in the 10th. It set up Kingery's game-winning sacrifice fly in the 12th, scoring Pedro Florimon from third as the Reds employed a five-man infield.
"When you've got our pitchers throwing like they did, that's very helpful when they're going seven, eight innings and just shutting hitters down," said Kingery, who hit his first career homer Monday and first career grand slam Tuesday. "When you've got that going and we jump on teams early and we're just feeding off each other and everyone is keeping the ball rolling … it's not one person, it's a collective group getting the job done."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Neris blows it: Neris snapped a streak of 21 consecutive saves when he allowed a run in the ninth to tie the game, 3-3. It was his first blown save since June 21. Neris allowed a leadoff double to Gennett and back-to-back singles to Devin Mesoraco and Phillip Ervin. Ervin's single to center field scored Gennett to tie it.
So close, Scooter: Gennett just missed a home run in the ninth, when he hit a ball on top of the left-field wall. Herrera then robbed him of a two-run homer in the 10th. Gennett crushed a ball to deep center field, but Herrera backed up toward the wall before making a leaping catch to keep the game tied.
"For him to bring it back, that's just kind of the way the season has been going for us," Gennett said. "That one right there, it would've been nice to go over the fence and catch a break."
"Our team, we hate losing. Everyone in here is going to play their butts off every night to try to help our team get a victory. We're not pressing the panic button. We're fine." -- Crawford
"I'm just really glad for our players. They're doing their jobs. They're coming up in big situations and getting big hits. Grinding through long games. I'm happy for them." -- Kapler, on if the 5-1 homestand meaning anything personally to him following a rough first week
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Reds right-hander Luis Castillo threw a 1-1 fastball to Hernandez over the plate with two outs in the fifth. Hernandez barreled the pitch for a solo homer into the second deck in right-center field, handing the Phillies a 3-2 lead. The ball left Hernandez's bat at 109.3 mph, according to Statcast™. It was his hardest-hit ball since at least the beginning of the 2015 season. The ball traveled a projected 441 feet, making it his longest homer in that span.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Gennett hit a ball on top of the left-field wall to start the ninth inning. He cruised into second base for a double, but the Reds asked to review the play thinking it could have been a home run. The call was confirmed.
The Phillies do not play Thursday, but they open a three-game series Friday night against the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. Vince Velasquez (1-1, 5.19 ERA), Jacob Arrieta (0-0, 4.50 ERA) and Ben Lively (0-1, 5.56 ERA) are scheduled to pitch in the series.
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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.