BALTIMORE -- Nick Pivetta had a conversation recently with Jacob Arrieta about staying in the moment and focusing pitch to pitch, rather than batter to batter or inning to inning.Roy Halladay turned himself into a potential future Hall of Famer doing that.Pivetta, who grew up idolizing Halladay, had a dominant
BALTIMORE -- Nick Pivetta had a conversation recently with Jacob Arrieta about staying in the moment and focusing pitch to pitch, rather than batter to batter or inning to inning.
Roy Halladay turned himself into a potential future Hall of Famer doing that.
Pivetta, who grew up idolizing Halladay, had a dominant performance in Wednesday afternoon's 4-1 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards. The victory improved the Phillies to 24-16, the first time they have been eight games above .500 since the end of the 2011 season.
"We're all really positive in here right now," Pivetta said. "Everybody is jelling together. You guys can see it. It's really, really fun in here right now."
Wednesday might have been the most dominant start of Pivetta's career. He allowed just two hits, one run and one walk in seven innings, and he struck out a career-high 11 batters. Pivetta generated a career-high 22 swings and misses, elevating his fastball at the top of the zone like the Phillies asked him to do in Spring Training.
"It's nice to have conversations with guys," Pivetta said afterward. "I can feed off Vinny [Velasquez] with what he does. I can talk to Jake about the mental side of the game. I can talk to [Aaron] Nola about how calm and cool he stays pitch to pitch. I can talk to [Zach] Eflin about certain sinker grips, helping each other out. I think that's really nice, when everybody is kind of moving together.
"I think that really helped me out. I think it's just little things here and there, making sure that you listen and go forward with it."
Pivetta allowed a solo home run to Adam Jones with one out in the first inning to hand the Orioles a 1-0 lead. He did not allow another baserunner until Chris Davis doubled with one out in the fifth inning, as he improved to 3-2 with a 3.72 ERA.
Remove Pivetta's clunker of a start against the Nationals on May 4, when he allowed six runs in one-plus inning, and he has a 2.60 ERA.
"You have to have dominating stuff to dominate," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "You can get through a lineup and you can get some contact and have a lot of fortune, but he has dominant stuff, the kind of stuff that can wipe out the opposition. Today is just one of those days that you can dream on -- like, what if he really puts it all together and is able to do this start in and start out?
"We're starting to see that consistency. A track record is beginning to develop, and once you start to develop a track record, you have dependability, which is really exciting."
Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp sees the same thing.
"I think he has the ability to go out and do that every time," Knapp said. "He's become very consistent with all four of his pitches. The spin rate on the fastball, you just can't catch up to it at the top of the zone, so when he can do that and throw offspeed off of it, it's a really lethal combination."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hail, Cesar:Cesar Hernandez hit a game-tying home run in the top of the sixth inning. After hitting two home runs in his first 29 games this season, he has hit three in his past 11 games. Hernandez tripled and scored in the seventh inning to make it 4-1.
Garcia saves the day:Tommy Hunter replaced Pivetta in the eighth and got himself into a quick jam, putting runners on the corners with one out. Kapler removed Hunter for right-hander Luis Garcia, who then walked Trey Mancini to load the bases. But Garcia got Jones to fly out to center field and Manny Machado to ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera singled to center field in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 42 games. Mike Schmidt holds the franchise record at 56 games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Maikel Franco has been a RBI machine this season. He entered the afternoon with 29, which tied for ninth in the National League. Franco poked a single between first and second base in the sixth inning to score Carlos Santana from third to hand the Phillies a 2-1 lead. The ball left Franco's bat at 65.7 mph, according to Statcast™. It is the seventh-softest hit of his career and the second-softest hit to score a run.
HE SAID IT
"That was the best I've seen him look to date. Dating all the way back to Spring Training, we talked about his north-south attack. Attacking the top of the zone with his fastball and then the bottom of the zone with his breaking balls. He had some low bullets, as well, that were quite successful. But the fastball up today was everything we had envisioned and imagined it could be and would be. He just had an amazing amount of confidence on the mound, delivering that pitch up in the zone. He had lots of swings and misses with it." -- Kapler, on Pivetta
The Phillies optioned right-hander Mark Leiter to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. They will make a corresponding roster move Friday in St. Louis. Right-hander Victor Arano and left-hander Adam Morgan both are on the 10-day disabled list, and both are close to rejoining the team.
The Phillies open a four-game series in St. Louis on Thursday night at Busch Stadium. Right-hander Vince Velasquez (3-4, 5.05 ERA) faces Cardinals righty Luke Weaver (3-2, 4.91 ERA) in the opener. After allowing three runs in his first two innings against the Giants in his last start, Velasquez retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced. He struck out 11 of them as his four-seam fastball jumped from 93.1 mph through his first seven batters to 94.2 mph through his final 17.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.