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Give ‘um hell, Maikel: Phillies 5, Marlins 2

The Phillies know how to load the bases, but sometimes they don’t seem to know how to unload them. Not tonight.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Given the way the Phillies have gone of late, this one seemed wrapped up early. Odubel Herrera got picked off and Nick Pivetta gave up a two-run shot in the top of the fourth. And that’s pretty much all you need to conjure up a Phillies loss these days.

But Pivetta kept it together. Those two runs were all he allowed and he wound up striking out seven over six innings, allowing four hits without walking a soul. A solid performance from the back of the Phillies rotation that has struggled of late, utilizing a curveball to invite some unfair swings and misses.

As Pivetta closed frame after frame, it became apparent that he was looking for some back-up. “You just have to trust that the offense is going to come back,” an exasperated John Kruk said.

It came back. It just took its sweet time getting there.

As usual, the Phillies were down by a run as the game entered the ninth inning, thanks to Rhys Hoskins halving the 2-0 deficit in the sixth with a solo shot. The Phillies down to their last chance; a chance routinely squandered by a dead offense. But Hoskins, leading off, took advantage of a squirrely-looking Kyle Barraclough out of the Marlins pen and worked a walk. Herrera, having a rough go of it lately, popped out, but Carlos Santana pushed a soft grounder to short that allowed him and Hoskins to reach base safely. Asdrubal Cabrera came up next and didn’t have to work to hard to load the bases.

But as Cabrera took a fourth ball low and inside, the Phillies’ greatest weakness revealed itself: There was nowhere else to put a base runner without scoring. And that’s exactly what the Phillies can’t do lately—unload the bases.

The right swing would make any of the next hitters a hero. We have seen a lot of heroic hacks this year; guys imagining the ball sailing over the fence and being at the bottom of a dog pile before they even step into the box. But when it comes time to stop simply getting on base and actually push a run across, these Phillies have stumbled. In stepped Nick Williams to reverse the trend.

Fortunately for him, Barraclough was really going through something on the mound that he couldn’t pull out of. His pitching coach came out to calm him down, and with the bases loaded, his Barraclough’s first pitch to WIlliams came far enough inside that it got away from the catcher, and the Phillies even asked the call to be reviewed in case Williams was hit by the pitch.

He wasn’t. Williams then worked a full count, and on a pitch that was too close to take, just as John Kruk had predicted, the offense came back. Sort of. Williams nubbed a trickler left enough of the mound that it rolled out of Barraclough’s grasp. Williams was thrown out at first, but Scott Kingery, pinch running for Hoskins, scored from third, tied the game at 2-2. It was Maikel Franco’s turn now with two runners in scoring position, and he just needed to knock the one run in for the win.

But Franco? He wanted them all.

With a three-run bomb that just cleared the left field flower bed, Franco delivered the first victory of the season in which the Phillies had trailed after eight innings.

“Go, go, go, go,” the cameras caught Franco coaxing the ball as it traveled into the stands. With their second consecutive win, and their competitors ready to close the gap in the standings, he was voicing the same vibes the first place Phillies could use on this home stand.