Losses like the one from the night before can tend to linger in a clubhouse. Battling back repeatedly and ultimately losing, those are the losses that can lead to a string of losses for a team.
Tonight though, in a steady drizzle, Jake Arrieta delivered a strong pitching performance and Jay Bruce delivered a clutch pinch hit to lead the Phillies to within a game of first place again.
Through the first three innings, Arrieta and Bryse Wilson traded goose eggs, holding the obviously worn out offenses to a combined two hits. In the fourth, the Phillies drew first blood when Jean Segura doubled, then went to third when Andrew McCutchen reached on an error by Johan Camargo. Bryce Harper hit a sacrifice fly to center field and the lead was 1-0.
In the sixth, the Braves got on the board when Ozzie Albies drew a one out walk, then went to second on a wild pitch. On the very next pitch, Camargo atoned for his error by driving in Albies with a single, then he went to third when Freddie Freeman himself singled. Ronald Acuna doubled, scoring Camargo and sending Freeman to third. Arrieta, though, bore down and retired the next two batters to squelch the rally, but the Braves had the lead at 2-1.
In the seventh, the Phillies roared back. Bryce Harper led off with a walk from AJ Minter, then scored on a subsequent J.T. Realmuto double. Rhys Hoskins was intentionally walked to set up a double play, but that backfired when Scott Kingery hit an infield single to load the bases. Minter would be replaced by Chad Sobotka and got Adam Haseley to hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly. Roman Quinn would replace Hoskins as a pinch runner at second. Logan Forsythe grounded out, but both runners moved into scoring position with two outs, bringing up Jay Bruce.
Bruce, as he has seemingly done all year, drove in both runners with a single and the lead stretched to 5-2. Segura followed it up with a triple that scored Bruce and the Phillies had a 6-2 lead. Bryce Harper would add a solo home run in the eighth and that set the final score for the game at 7-2.
All the while, Arrieta was superb. He has been criticized during his tenure in Philadelphia and rightfully so as he has not produced as expected, but tonight was not one of those nights. During his six innings, he kept the ball on the ground, as evidenced by his eight ground ball outs, and limited the walks. This is the recipe for victory with Arrieta as he doesn’t strike out the number of batters he used to.
Tomorrow, the two teams will lock up again in the rubber match that if the Phillies win will put them into a tie for first place.