PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Altherr went about two steps out of the batter's box, raised his arms and then waited for the mob to greet him at first base.This is the way things are going for the Phillies right now. They expect good things to happen at any moment.Altherr's one-out single
PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Altherr went about two steps out of the batter's box, raised his arms and then waited for the mob to greet him at first base.
This is the way things are going for the Phillies right now. They expect good things to happen at any moment.
Altherr's one-out single scored Andrew Knapp with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th, and the Phillies completed a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon.
The Phillies are now 9-1 at Citizens Bank Park and winners of their past seven at home. The 9-1 mark to start a season at home is the best for the Phils since they started the 1964 season by going 9-1 in their first 10 games at Connie Mack Stadium. Since a 1-4 road trip to start the season, Philadelphia is now 13-3 over its past 16 games. And they are doing it in different ways every day.
"It's a different atmosphere when you are winning," said Altherr, who recorded his his first career walk-off hit. "That's for sure. We'll just try to keep this rolling and we'll keep battling."
The Pirates, meanwhile, have now lost a season-high four straight thanks to the sweep, and have scored just five runs in that stretch.
This one didn't come easy. The Phillies were getting no-hit until the fifth and struggled to generate much offense to support starting pitcher Nick Pivetta. And yet, they were still able to record their first four-game sweep against the Pirates since May 12-15, 1994, at Veterans Stadium.
"This is the proudest day that I've had of our men," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
With one out in the 11th, Knapp hit a ball to left that kept carrying through the South Philly wind. It eventually hit the chain-link fencing above the extended glove of Pirates left-fielder Corey Dickerson. As the ball rolled back toward the infield, Knapp hustled out a triple, with third-base coach Dusty Wathan giving him a stop sign. Altherr then roped a single through a drawn-in infield for the game-winner.
On Sunday, Pivetta gave the Phillies another solid outing from a starting pitcher. Pivetta went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, walking two and striking out seven. The only blemish on his afternoon came in the top of the fifth, when he surrendered a two-run homer to Pirates catcher Elias Diaz that briefly gave Pittsburgh the lead.
Two hours later, Altherr would bring Knapp home, with the Phillies finding yet another way to get a win. And as the smoke machine and the strobe lights filled the home clubhouse afterward, it was pretty clear to see how much things have changed.
"I feel really good about our confidence levels right now," Kapler said. "We're having a lot of fun. I think having fun in baseball is really important. It's a long season. Keeping it light -- we laugh in the dugout. I hope you guys are seeing that. A lot of smiles and a lot of laughter, and after the games, we're having a great time in there. We take it seriously and we prepare like animals, but we also enjoy each others' company, and we're laughing a lot and having a lot of fun, and that leads to confidence."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the Phillies being held hitless by Williams through 4 innings, Pivetta roped a double into the right-field corner that broke up the bid and scored Knapp to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 2-1. Pivetta would then score on a Cesar Hernandez sacrifice fly to left to tie the game.
"I was just trying to get back the two runs that I gave up and give the team a chance to win," Pivetta said. "Dusty gave me the go-ahead and I ran as fast as I can, and got there [on the sacrifice fly.]"
Phillies starting pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in each of their last 12 games. It is the club's longest stretch since a 13-game streak from April 27 to May 11, 2011. Phillies starters have a 2.38 ERA in the 12-game span.
HE SAID IT
"I thought for a second, maybe once I saw the ball ricochet. But I was saying that my legs after 11 innings probably aren't the best. I might have run out of steam." -- Knapp, on possibly attempting an inside-the-park home run in the 11th
The Phillies have an off-day on Monday before returning to Citizens Bank Park for a three-game set against the D-backs. Vince Velasquez will get the start on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET for Philadelphia against D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray.
** Kevin Cooney ** is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia.