PITTSBURGH - The Phillies snapped their four-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over the Pirates Friday at PNC Park, but even that positivity was dampened by Jeremy Hellickson's potentially costly injury.
Hellickson, who had retired nine Pirates in a row and 16 of 17, injured his right side in the seventh inning, either during his at-bat or while legging out a two-out RBI double (see story).
The Phils held on to win but they could be losing Hellickson for a good chunk of time if it turns out to be an oblique strain.
The win makes the Phillies 15-24 and 2-5 on their nine-game road trip.
Starting pitching report
Hellickson began the night by allowing a hard-hit single up the middle to Josh Harrison and a 400-foot, opposite-field double to Josh Bell, but he got into a groove from there and didn't allow another hit.
Both runs he surrendered came in the first inning on Bell's double and Freddy Galvis' two-out error. Hellickson threw 31 pitches in the first and just 53 over the next five innings.
Hellickson welcomed a softer test than he's been used to. Of his eight starts entering Friday, four were against the Nationals and one was against the Cubs.
Hellickson allowed two hits and one earned run over six innings with one walk and two strikeouts. It was the Phillies' best starting pitching performance since Zach Eflin allowed one run in seven innings on April 23.
The Pirates are one of the majors' worst offenses, ranking 28th in home runs, 27th in runs and batting average to begin the weekend. They had two hits all night and went three-up, three-down six times.
Pirates right-hander Trevor Williams was having the best start of his young career until the Phillies got to him in the sixth.
He had four 1-2-3 innings, and three of the first six outs of the game were tappers back to the mound. But Williams - the rotation replacement for Jameson Taillon - was pulled with two outs in the sixth after Odubel Herrera ended an 11-pitch at-bat with a single to center.
The Phillies did not strike out against Williams in his 5⅔ innings.
Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris preserved Hellickson's win with scoreless innings.
At the plate
Cameron Rupp gave the Phillies more than enough insurance with an opposite-field, three-run home run in the ninth. It came off Pirates closer Tony Watson, who was pitching with a deficit. Rupp has an .811 OPS this season.
Cesar Hernandez, who entered the night hitting below .300 (at .299) for the first time since the 10th game of the season, had a productive night. He singled in the Phillies' first run in the third inning and walked and scored to start the sixth-inning rally.
The Phillies went ahead in that sixth inning on an Aaron Altherr RBI groundout and Tommy Joseph sacrifice fly.
It was just a single, but Herrera's third at-bat of the night was pretty important from an individual standpoint. He fouled off six pitches before beating Williams with a base hit up the middle. Going into that AB, Herrera had a .238 on-base percentage over his last 25 games, second worst in the National League over that span, ahead of only Hunter Pence (.237).
• Pete Mackanin had planned to give Michael Saunders, who exited Thursday's game with a groin injury, the night off. But Saunders was pressed into action when Daniel Nava injured his hamstring on a sixth-inning double.
• Jeanmar Gomez (elbow) threw a bullpen session Thursday and will throw a second one in the next few days. He may not need a rehab assignment before being activated from the DL, Mackanin said.
• Aaron Nola will be activated on Sunday to start against the Pirates. In the meantime, left-hander Adam Morgan was called up from Triple A to give the Phillies an extra arm in the bullpen Friday and Saturday.
Here's how the rest of the series shapes up:
Saturday, 4:05 p.m. - Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.63) vs. Ivan Nova (3-3, 2.48)
Sunday, 1:35 p.m. - Aaron Nola (2-0, 5.40) vs. Chad Kuhl (1-4, 6.69).