Phillies focus on finishing four-game sweep of Brewers

MLB

When the Philadelphia Phillies began the current four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, they were two games under .500 and scuffling in a number of ways.

Fast forward a few days, and the Phillies are aiming for a four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon.

Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam in the first inning Wednesday and Philadelphia held on for a 5-4 win over the Brewers. The Phillies have appeared in seven straight one-run games, their longest streak since June 22-28, 1980, and they have won four of those contests.

The Phillies’ bullpen was terrific on Wednesday with five relievers combining to throw 4 2/3 strong innings. They allowed one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Hector Neris and Sam Coonrod weren’t available after recording consecutive five-out saves in the first two games of the series.

“You can always find roles for people, especially when you’re pitching well,” Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi said.

The Phillies will hand the ball Thursday to Zack Wheeler, who is 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in six starts.

In his career against the Brewers, Wheeler is 1-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five starts.

It’s unclear if the Phillies will have Bryce Harper available for the series finale. The star right fielder has missed six of the past seven games while recovering from a sore left wrist and also being hit in the face with a pitch by Genesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals.

“Hopefully he just continues to get better each day and we get him out there soon,” Girardi said.

Philadelphia placed two other outfielders on the injured list Wednesday. Roman Quinn is out after receiving nine stitches on his right index finger, Matt Joyce is sidelined due to a right calf strain. Scott Kingery and Mickey Moniak were called up to fill their roster spots.

Quinn said, “It’s very frustrating because I feel like I was getting in a rhythm. Playing three consecutive games. Finally getting my feet a little wet. Finally having some success.”

The banged-up Brewers will look to salvage the finale at Philadelphia one series after taking three of four from the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

It won’t be easy, especially without Christian Yelich, who landed on the injured list again Tuesday because of back issues. He has played in just one game since April 11.

“Obviously, we want Christian in the lineup,” teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. said. “We want him playing every opportunity we have. He’s an MVP. He’s a great teammate. I’m not sure how it’s going to shake out.”

In the Philadelphia series, Milwaukee is 7-for-33 with runners in scoring position with 26 left on base. Despite the offensive struggles, the Brewers remain confident.

“We’ve kind of established that culture over the years that no matter who’s in there, guys are going to be prepared, guys are going to give their best,” third baseman Travis Shaw said. “We’re really being tested right here, but so far, I mean, we’ve come through better than I think anybody could expect.”

The Brewers will turn Thursday to Brandon Woodruff (2-0, 1.80 ERA), who has recorded five consecutive quality starts. His last time out, he threw six innings of two-run ball in a no-decision against the Dodgers on Saturday. He struck out six, matching his lowest whiff total during the five-start surge.

“He’s taking his game to another level,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Woodruff has given up just one earned run in 18 career innings against the Phillies, going 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts.

–Field Level Media

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