Unlikely bunch sparks Phillies' game-winning rally
Hernandez delivers clutch go-ahead hit in four-run seventh inning
PHILADELPHIA -- This is not how the Phillies predicted they would win their second game of the season Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez pitched six scoreless innings before he unraveled in the seventh in a 4-1 loss to the Phillies. He walked Grady Sizemore and Cameron Rupp then hit Andres Blanco with a pitch to load the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Cesar Hernandez followed and smacked a first-pitch fastball to right field for a single against Xavier Cedeno to score Sizemore and Rupp to hand the Phillies a 2-1 lead.
Rupp beat a throw to the plate from the strong-armed and typically accurate Bryce Harper.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," Rupp said. "I'm thinking as soon as the ball is hit, freeze on the line drive and then go until [third base coach] Pete [Mackanin] stops me. He kept waving me on."
Cedeno then hit Ben Revere with a pitch to reload the bases before Craig Stammen entered. He allowed a single to right to Freddy Galvis to score Blanco, and Chase Utley followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Hernandez to give the Phillies a three-run lead.
Sizemore, Rupp, Blanco, Hernandez, Revere, Galvis and Utley: it was an unlikely crew.
"It comes down to playing the game," Rupp said. "We've all played it forever and that's why we're here."
Sizemore is trying to reestablish himself as a productive player following lost years because of injuries. He might not have made the team if not for a guaranteed $2 million contract. Rupp had played just 22 games in the big leagues. Blanco had played just 27 since 2011. Hernandez, who had just 237 career at-bats before Friday, struggled this spring and might have made the team only because he was out of options.
"I'm ready for every opportunity in the game, whether it's pinch-running or hitting," Hernandez said. "I made it happen today."
Galvis, who went 3-for-3 with one double, one walk and one RBI in the No. 2 spot, entered the night with a .617 OPS in 560 career plate appearances.
"I feel good," said Galvis, who is 5-for-13 this season. "My approach is much better. If I keep working, everything will be all right."
Said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg: "To come up with the win, it's even more special, but just involves everybody and really creates a spark. Not only on the field, but in the clubhouse."