The Phillies have certainly found a winning formula that not even the calendar's turn from April to May could stop.
Again, they got good starting pitching, solid bullpen innings and just enough offense to win, this time a 2-1 decision over the Cleveland Indians on a dreary Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies (15-10) have now won six straight games and nine of their last 10. In sweeping the Indians, the Phillies completed two sweeps in a row for the first time since September 2012.
Vince Velasquez narrowly earned the decision in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel against Cleveland's Danny Salazar, who was brilliant for most of the game.
Carlos Santana made it interesting, though. The Cleveland power hitter launched a deep home run off Hector Neris - who wound up earning the save - with one away in the ninth inning to cut the lead in half.
But Neris retired the next two batters he faced to complete the sweep.
Starting pitching report
Velasquez, who gave up five and three runs in his last two starts, respectively, looked a little more like the pitcher the Phillies saw in his first two outings, despite a high pitch count.
The right-hander escaped a sloppy first inning, one in which he threw six balls in his first seven pitches, when Santana lined out to Ryan Howard to end the inning with two runners on base. If the ball wasn't hit directly at Howard, the Indians likely would've got on the board before the Phillies came to the plate.
Velasquez breezed through the second and third innings, scattering one hit and a walk with two strikeouts, including a strikeout-caught stealing double play to end the third inning.
The control issue popped up again in the fourth. Velasquez walked Francisco Lindor and Santana, the heart of Cleveland's order, on just nine pitches to open fourth inning after the Phillies gave their starting pitcher a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third. After a mound visit, the grounds crew was called out to clean up the pitcher's mound, and Velasquez worked out of the inning unscathed.
Velasquez, who improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.44, lasted six innings after throwing 103 pitches (60 strikes). He struck out six and scattered two hits (none after the second inning) while walking four.
The bullpen keeps on rolling.
David Hernandez pitched clean seventh and eighth innings, giving way to Hector Neris to finish off the game. Usual closer Jeanmar Gomez was unavailable after pitching in four of the last five games.
Neris worked through the home run by Santana and a hard-hit out by Yan Gomes to pick up the save.
The bullpen's scoreless innings streak ended at 20, with Santana's home run. It was the longest streak in the majors this season.
At the plate
Salazar retired the first seven batters he faced - including a stretch of five straight strikeouts on changeups - when Velasquez stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the third inning with one out. After falling behind 0-2, Velasquez worked a walk to become the Phillies' first base runner of the day.
Peter Bourjos then worked a full count and lined a single to left field, putting two runners on base.
After an Odubel Herrera fly out for the inning's second out, Freddy Galvis stayed hot and lined a single up the middle, scoring Velasquez for the game's first run.
Then, the slippery mound provided the second run of the inning. With Salazar set to deliver a pitch to Maikel Franco, his back foot slipped as he went to make his pitch. The home plate umpire quickly signaled a balk and Bourjos trotted in to score from third base.
The two hits that inning were the only two the Phillies had up until Cameron Rupp's single in the seventh inning.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Andres Blanco launched a triple off the wall in right-center. But he was quickly erased when the Phillies tried a squeeze play. The Indians smartly called a pitch-out with Bourjos at the plate and Blanco was caught in no man's land.
Herrera's streaks over
Herrera, who went 0 for 3 at the plate, snapped three different streaks in one day. The centerfielder saw an 11-game hitting streak, seven-game streak of scoring at least one run and a 21-game streak of reaching base all come to a halt.
In the field
With Velasquez in trouble in the fourth inning with two men on and two out, Indians leftfielder Rajai Davis hit a sharp liner that appeared destined to fall into left-center. But Darin Ruf, playing left field, ran the ball down and made a diving catch to save at least one run and keep Velasquez clean through four innings.
Cesar Hernandez picked up a fielding error and throwing error on the same play in the eighth inning.
The Phillies begin a 10-game road trip Monday when they open a four-game series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis before heading to Miami and Atlanta. Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 3.81 ERA) will start against Adam Wainwright (1-3, 7.16) Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m.
Cleveland is off Monday before starting a six-game homestand against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.