Phillies finish 4-game sweep of Rockies behind ace Wheeler
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Zack Wheeler is starting to pitch like an ace. Alec Bohm is on a tear. Bryce Harper would be on the bench with an injury if not for the designated hitter in the National League this season, which has allowed him to keep hitting.
The Phillies are rolling into New York confident and ready to take a run at the NL East leaders.
Wheeler tossed one-hit ball over six shutout innings and Bohm homered to help the Philadelphia Phillies complete a four-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a 7-1 victory on Thursday.
Up next, three games against the Mets, who took two of three in Philadelphia earlier this month. The Phillies (10-10) are already four games behind the Mets (14-6).
“What more can we ask for? We get to face the best,” first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “I know they’re one of the best in the league. It’ll be great to get after these guys.”
The Phillies would love to have squeezed in Wheeler (1-3) for one of the starts in New York.
Wheeler, who lost his first three starts of the season, had an outing more in line with the ones that helped him finish second in NL Cy Young Award voting last season. Wheeler struck out seven and walked four. He threw nine strikes on nine pitches without a strikeout in a 1-2-3 first inning and left Sam Hilliard stranded on third after a leadoff triple in the third inning.
“Just come out of there with zeroes, that’s the biggest thing for me,” Wheeler said. “There’s a few things I still need to iron out a little bit with my mechanics. I’m getting to where I want to be. Not fully there. But we’re getting there.”
The Rockies were swept in a four-game series in Philadelphia for the first time since July 2010. The Phillies moved to .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 on April 13.
“Any time you sweep somebody, especially four games, it’s always a plus,” Wheeler said. “Going into New York, it’s a tough team, so we leave here on a good note and hopefully we can carry this momentum into there and win some ballgames.”
They scored an unearned run in the second inning off Austin Gomber (1-2) off a throwing error by third baseman Ryan McMahon. McMahon made a whopping four errors in the series — a mark more stunning considering he made only seven last season. With a runner on first, J.T. Realmuto hit a hard grounder to McMahon, whose throw to second sailed into the outfield. Bohm made it 1-0 on an RBI groundout.
Roman Quinn bunted for a hit in the third, stole second base, stole third and scored on Rhys Hoskins’ sacrifice fly to left. Bohm added a solo shot to left in the fourth for his team-high 14th RBI.
Wheeler, who gave up seven runs to the Marlins two starts ago, has seemingly started to recover from right shoulder soreness that plagued him in spring training. He allowed Hilliard’s leadoff triple in the third, issued a one-out walk, then got Connor Joe to hit into a double play.
Hilliard grounded into a force-out off Brand Hand in the seventh to make it 3-1.
Harper forced in a run as part of a four-run seventh when he was hit in the leg with a pitch and the bases were loaded.
“This was a tough series for us,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We didn’t score a ton. We didn’t pitch great. We didn’t defend. We didn’t play well.”
Rockies: OF Kris Bryant (back soreness) was sidelined for the third straight game. INF Brendan Rodgers (back) also sat out. Black said both players are still day to day.
Harper went 1 for 3 on the 10-year anniversary of his first big-league game. Harper was 19 years old when he played for the Washington Nationals against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He won the Rookie of the Year Award that season and has twice won NL MVP, with Washington in 2015 and last season with the Phillies. He was back at designated hitter against the Rockies. Harper hasn’t played right field since April 16 due to a strained right elbow and won’t be back in the outfield anytime soon.
His wife, Kayla, posted on Instagram she was “in awe” of Harper and wrote of “ 16+ apartments/houses to call home, 30 moves and too many flights to count.”
The Phillies send RHP Aaron Nola (1-2, 3.74 ERA) to the mound Friday against Mets RHP Tylor Megill (3-0, 2.35 ERA).
The Rockies head home for three against Cincinnati. They’ll send RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-1, 4.73 ERA) to the mound against Reds RHP Hunter Greene (1-2, 5.27).
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