ST. PETERSBURG -- For a second straight day, the Phillies' offense feasted like kings.Scott Kingery stretched his hitting streak to six games to lead the Phillies to a 10-4 win and a series sweep over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday. It was the second consecutive sweep for Philadelphia
ST. PETERSBURG -- For a second straight day, the Phillies' offense feasted like kings.
Scott Kingery stretched his hitting streak to six games to lead the Phillies to a 10-4 win and a series sweep over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Sunday. It was the second consecutive sweep for Philadelphia (six straight wins) and eighth win in its last nine games.
"We are having fun," Kingery said. "I think one of the big things is that everyone's positive out there, no matter if we are down a couple runs or up a couple of runs. We're rolling right now and having fun."
The Phillies did the bulk of their offensive damage against Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough in the top of the third. Andrew Knapp slapped a single through the right side of the infield to start things off against Yarbrough, who got the start on the hill as part of the Rays' bullpen day. Pedro Florimon followed that up with a double. Cesar Hernandez reached on a throwing error by Rays shortstop Daniel Robertson that allowed the Phillies' first run in. Yarbrough then hit Rhys Hoskins with a pitch to load the bases for Kingery.
"Obviously, we play for the big innings," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Big innings are really important to winning baseball games, grinding out longer at-bats, just to give yourself a chance to get that big hit."
Kingery, who got the start at second base on Sunday, got that big hit after he narrowly missed out on his second grand slam in five days. Kingery turned around an 0-2 fastball for a line drive that short-hopped the wall in the deepest part of center field for his seventh double of the year, tops among all Major League rookies.
"As a team, we do a really great job of grinding the pitcher down, making him throw pitches and then battling every at-bat," Kingery said.
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Nine of Kingery's 13 hits this season have been for extra bases. The team's No. 2 overall prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, now has 11 RBIs during his current hitting streak. His 12 RBIs through the first 13 games of his big league career are the most in Phillies history since Don Money had 15 through that same span in 1969.
According to Elias, the Yankees' Aaron Judge is the most recent rookie with 11-plus RBIs in six games, accomplishing that feat from Sept. 24-29, 2017. And Rhys Hoskins is the most recent Phillies rookie to do so, from Sept. 8-14, 2017.
Starter Ben Lively had a bit of a rough day for Philadelphia, giving up a solo home run to Denard Span in the bottom of the first. A bloop single into shallow left off the bat of Kevin Kiermaier and a triple down the left-field line by Mallex Smith put the Phillies in a quick 2-0 hole. Lively would settle down but would only make it through four innings because of an elevated pitch count, striking out five along the way.
"I could have performed better but I'm going to be smiling today because we got the win," Lively said. "Everyone's pumped. It's going to be a good plane ride."
It would be more than enough after the Phillies added five more runs in the top of the eighth thanks to a three-run blast to left field by Aaron Altherr.
"Hopefully that means that more good things are coming for me," Altherr said. "It felt good to get the head out and pull the ball for once."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Phillies reliever Yacksel Rios plunked Joey Wendle and gave up a single to Jesus Sucre to put the tying runs aboard with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Rios was able to get Robertson to pop out to the catcher but was replaced by Luis Garcia. The first batter Garcia faced -- Span -- smoked a line drive to right field but it was caught by a diving Altherr to end the inning and the threat.
"The read. The break. The laying out and the positioning were all spot on," Kapler said.
The Phillies' pitching staff has allowed the fewest number of home runs in the Major Leagues this season, averaging just 0.57 home runs per nine innings. Even with Span's leadoff shot on Sunday, Philly starters have allowed just four home runs combined through the first 14 games, trailing only the Minnesota and San Francisco staffs for the fewest in the league.
HE SAID IT
"Those guys know how to keep it light. There's plenty of guys smiling in our clubhouse right now in part because they've made it their intention to have a good time and I think that's important in baseball because there is so much stress, so much pressure and so much on the line every night," --Kapler
Philly starter Aaron Nola (1-0, 1.69) will look to continue his career success against the Braves when the red-hot Phillies travel to Atlanta on Monday to kick off a three-game set at 7:35 p.m. ET. Nola has a career 5-1 record with a 1.93 ERA in his eight starts -- including his solid Opening Day start -- against the National League East rival. Atlanta will send righty fireballer Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.93) to the mound.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in Tampa.