Phillies Vs. Red Sox: Phils Enter All-Star Break on a High After Losing Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola was scratched and the Phillies were undermanned, but they were still able to pull out a huge series win in Boston to end the first half of the season.

Phillies enter All-Star break on a high after improbable series win in Boston originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

What a way to end an uneven first half.

The undermanned Phillies, who placed scheduled starter Aaron Nola, third baseman Alec Bohm and two relievers on the COVID injured list Sunday morning, pulled off a series win on the road over the team with the best record in the American League to head into the All-Star break.

And they did it by piecing things together in a bullpen game.

It was a 5-4 victory for the Phils, who took two of three at Fenway Park after winning three of four at Wrigley Field. They finish the first half 44-44 and 3½ games behind the Mets, who blew a ninth-inning lead and lost to the Pirates.

Ranger Suarez, now the closer, picked up the final seven outs of a one-run game for his second save. He loaded the bases in the eighth inning but stranded them by getting Alex Verdugo to ground out softly. 

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Suarez faced J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in the ninth but retired the side in order.

It was the longest non-three-inning save by a Phillie since Ricky Bottalico went 2⅔ innings in June of 1995.

Left-hander Cristopher Sanchez was instrumental in the win with three innings of relief. Brandon Kintzler served as the opener and faced four batters. He had a 1-2-3 first inning, then allowed a leadoff homer to Bogaerts in the second before being replaced by Sanchez.

Sanchez, a hard-throwing 24-year-old acquired from the Rays in November 2019 by former Phils GM Matt Klentak, threw 50 pitches. He struck out two of the game’s best right-handed hitters in Martinez and Bogaerts. He picked up a big groundball to short with two on and two outs in the fourth inning to finish his portion of the job. Command has been an issue for Sanchez throughout his time in the minors but was not on Sunday as he pounded the Red Sox with two-seamers.

Archie Bradley was also effective in navigating out of a jam caused by Jose Alvarado, who has been scored upon in six of his last seven appearances and has put 19 men on base in his last seven innings.

Ronald Torreyes, who had a great first half for the Phillies defensively and a surprisingly productive first half at the plate, was their offensive standout in this one. Batting eighth, he started their first rally with a single to left and followed an inning later with a three-run home run over the Green Monster.

Both hits came against former Phillie Nick Pivetta, who had a costly meltdown in the second inning. With two outs, he gave up an opposite-field RBI single to J.T. Realmuto and was too busy expressing frustration to back up third base. The throw from right field got past the third-base bag and went into the stands, allowing a second run to score. 

Realmuto appeared amused by the ordeal. After the inning, Pivetta screamed his way back to the dugout and stormed down the tunnel. Red Sox manager Alex Cora quickly called to the bullpen, in part because Pivetta had thrown 51 pitches but probably more so because of his body language. Keeping the emotions in check was an issue for Pivetta in his four seasons with the Phillies.

This trip was a true family reunion. The Phils beat Jake Arrieta on Tuesday, Pivetta on Sunday and scored three runs Saturday off of Brandon Workman, who failed to record an out.

The Phillies lead the majors in runs per game in July and rank fifth since June 1. They're fifth in slugging and sixth in OPS over that span. It may not seem like the ideal time to have four days off, but the guys who have spent most of the season dealing with nagging injuries -- notably Bryce Harper, Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Jean Segura -- will take it.

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