No Bryce Harper, no Nick Castellanos, no Craig Kimbrel or Gregory Soto, no problem for the Phillies as they completed a sweep Sunday afternoon in Oakland to end their road trip.
The Phillies beat the A’s, 3-2, for the second straight day to wrap up a 6-1 week out west. They’re a season-best four games over .500 at 38-34 and have won 13 of their last 15 games overall.
Manager Rob Thomson gave Harper the day off. It was a way to get him 48 hours off his feet with Monday’s off-day. Harper had started all but one game for the Phillies since returning from Tommy John surgery on May 2.
Castellanos was out for a second straight game with a stomach bug.
Kimbrel and Soto were unavailable after being used in three of the Phillies’ previous four games.
Yet even without two middle-of-the-order bats and two of their three healthy late-inning relievers, the Phils did just enough to win the game thanks to their pitching, Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot, Cristian Pache’s production in the nine-hole and a clutch RBI from Trea Turner in the eighth inning.
Facing a left-handed opener, Schwarber led off the game with a home run for the 12th time as a Phillie (including playoffs). The Phils have gone 9-3 in those games. He added an RBI single in the fifth, driving in Pache, who doubled twice and scored twice.
Turner singled Pache home in the eighth inning and it proved to be a huge insurance run because Jose Alvarado gave one back in the bottom half.
With Alvarado used, Kimbrel and Soto down and Seranthony Dominguez on the injured list with an oblique strain, Thomson turned to Yunior Marte to protect one-run lead in the ninth inning. Marte responded well to the opportunity, striking out the side in order for his first major-league save.
The Phillies’ bullpen continues to step up. Eight different pitchers were used in Saturday’s extra-inning win. The Phils are now 16-7 in one-run games, second in the majors to the Marlins.
“Just a great effort from the bullpen, they’ve been outstanding,” Thomson told reporters after the game. “The last four saves from four different guys.”
It’s actually the last five saves: Luis Ortiz on Tuesday, Alvarado Wednesday, Kimbrel Thursday, Hoffman Saturday and Marte Sunday.
Zack Wheeler earned the win with six scoreless innings on an afternoon when he didn’t have his best stuff or sharpest command. He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out four. He’s 6-4 with a 3.48 ERA and has allowed one or no runs in four of his last five starts.
This was an important week for the Phillies, who were a National League-worst 13-23 on the road after their loss Monday night in Arizona. They’re now 19-23 on the road and the inability to win at Citizens Bank Park is no longer a top storyline.
The week ahead is even bigger. After resting Monday, the Phillies begin a six-game homestand against the Braves and Mets. The Braves, like the Phillies, have won six in a row. The Mets have lost 11 of 14 since sweeping the Phils out of Citi Field on June 1.