PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber and the Phillies surged into a pennant race by beating some of the worst teams in baseball. The Pirates had been no exception — 0-6 this season against their more-successful cross-state rivals.
Roansy Contreras and a trio of triples helped the Pirates avoid a season sweep.
Oneil Cruz, Tucupita Marcano and Bryan Reynolds all tripled and scored, and Contreras struck out seven over five innings to lift Pittsburgh past Philadelphia 5-0 on Sunday and end a seven-game losing streak.
The Pirates won for only the third time in 16 games, and they also snapped the Phillies’ six-game winning streak.
The Pirates became the second team this season to hit three triples in a game. It was the first time they had accomplished that feat since May 25, 2018.
“I thought our guys made really good reads right out of the box thinking three,” manager Derek Shelton said. “I think it was a credit to all three of our guys that they went hard right out of the box.”
Cruz started the three-bagger parade when he lined one to center off Noah Syndergaard (8-9) on the second pitch of the game. Ke’Bryan Hayes singled on the third pitch for a 1-0 lead. Marcano tripled in the fourth and scored on Greg Allen’s sacrifice bunt. Reynolds tripled to right in the sixth and scored on Michael Chavis’ single.
Three triples, three runs.
The rare good news for the Pirates did come in threes.
Bligh Madris chased Syndergaard in the sixth on a line-drive double off the right-field wall that made it 5-0.
“Frustrating outing but I think there's a lot of good positives to take into my next start,” Syndergaard said.
The Phillies still hold the second NL wild card as they head out for a six-game trip that includes three in Arizona and three in San Francisco. Both teams have losing records, and the Phillies have feasted on the sub-.500 crew since interim manager Rob Thomson took over on June 3. The Phillies took two of three against the Pirates after sweeping a four-game set against the Reds.
They won two more series since the All-Star break against the Pirates and Reds and won series against Washington and Miami. There has been no late-summer swoon against the also-rans that could cost the Phillies a playoff spot like it has in recent seasons. At least, not yet — and September is loaded with series vs. the Marlins, Nationals and Chicago Cubs.
“Maybe it’s just difference in personnel,” Thomson said. “We’re a better ballclub than we have been in the past. We’ve just got better talent, that’s part of it.”
Perhaps, but Schwarber, Castellanos, Alec Bohm and Harper (the top four hitters in the order) went 1 for 12 in the game and none of the Phillies could solve Contreras (4-4). He allowed three hits and walked two in his first win since July 7. He combined with three relievers on a four-hitter.
“We take away the positive of the winning homestand,” Schwarber said. “We've got to take that momentum into Arizona, get three there and get a little breather and go on from there.”
IT’S JUST AS SIMPLE AS THAT
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto caught Hayes and Allen stealing.
“He's the best catcher in the game, all-around,” Syndergaard said.
The Phillies were shut out for the 12th time this season and fifth time since Aug. 11. The Pirates completed their fourth shutout this season and first since July 23. The Pirates staff finished the series with 13 straight scoreless innings. The Phillies bullpen clamped down after Syndergaard left and tossed 3 1/3 perfect innings.
Pirates: Claimed RHP Robert Stephenson off waivers from Colorado and placed RHP JT Brubaker on the paternity list.
Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (right knee) could return to a bullpen role at some point this season. Eflin (3-5, 4.37 ERA) hasn’t pitched since June 25 and could throw a bullpen session this week.
FATHER & SON
Former Pirates and Phillies third baseman Charlie Hayes threw a ceremonial first pitch to his son, Ke’Bryan.
The Pirates have yet to name a starter for Monday's opener of a three-game series at Milwaukee. Corbin Burnes (9-6, 2.84 ERA) pitches for the Brewers. Pittsburgh has won five straight games against Milwaukee.
The Phillies head to Arizona, sending Ranger Suárez (8-5, 3.33 ERA) to the mound against Madison Bumgarner (6-13, 4.53 ERA) on Monday in the first game of a three-game series.
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