MILWAUKEE (AP) — Philadelphia Phillies rookie Nick Williams walked up to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth and recognized a familiar name on the mound after the Milwaukee Brewers made a pitching change.
The previous time Williams faced Brewers reliever Tyler Webb was in Triple-A on June 11, when Williams hit a home run off a first-pitch slider.
Different level, even better result for Williams.
Williams hit his first career grand slam on the first pitch that Webb threw in the sixth, powering the Phillies’ 5-2 win on Sunday to avert a three-game series sweep.
“First pitch again, slider and another homer. It’s crazy,” Williams said.
This wasn’t quite the debut that Webb had envisioned with the Brewers after being acquired Thursday from the Yankees for minor-league first baseman Garrett Cooper.
“It was a lefty going up against a lefty. It was a good matchup for him,” manager Craig Counsell said about Webb. “He threw a breaking ball in the strike zone and the guy put a good swing on it.”
Just as five weeks ago, when Williams was with the Phillies’ top farm club at Lehigh Valley and Webb was pitching for the Yankees’ Triple-A team at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“I just had some playbacks in my mind,” Williams said.
He capitalized at Miller Park after the Phillies opened the sixth with three straight singles off Rob Scahill (1-3).
Four Phillies relievers combined to shut out the Brewers’ potent lineup over the final four innings, getting out of jams in the eighth and ninth when the Brewers put the tying run at the plate.
Closer Hector Neris opened the ninth by allowing two singles before retiring the next three hitters for his eighth save, capped by slugger Eric Thames’ game-ending popout.
The Brewers scored their only runs on pinch-hitter Brett Phillips’ two-run shotfor the rookie’s first career homer. Phillips was pumped and bounced around the dugout among giddy teammates after crossing the plate for a 2-1 lead in the fifth.
Phillips’ latest stay in Milwaukee could be short with starting pitcher Junior Guerra on track to return from the disabled list. But the left-handed hitter could play a bigger role in the rebuilding Brewers’ future.
“It’s a great moment for whatever happens with Brett the rest of the year,” Counsell said.
Webb allowed singles to the next two hitters after Williams before getting out of the jam with two strikeouts and a popout. The Brewers are hoping that Webb can be an effective left-handed presence out of the bullpen as they try to hold on to the lead in the National League Central.
Phillies: Jeremy Hellickson (6-5) struck out six and allowed four hits and two runs over five innings for his first win since June 4. He came out of the game because of a tight right calf that bothered the right-hander when he pushed off the mound.
“For the last six weeks or so our starters have been giving us innings and keeping us in games,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
Brewers: Matt Garza allowed three hits, three walks and a run over five innings. He was on deck with two outs in the fifth when eight-place hitter Orlando Arcia singled. Counsell called Garza back and inserted Phillips, who delivered the pinch-hit homer.
“Besides his family, there’s nothing that the commissioner cherishes more than the Milwaukee Brewers.” — Team owner Mark Attanasio about former owner and baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Attanasio spoke at a news conference before the game about Selig’s induction on July 30 into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Brewers: Guerra (right shin) threw a bullpen session Saturday and remains scheduled to start Tuesday at Pittsburgh. The right-hander was placed on the 10-day disabled on July 8.
Phillies: Jerad Eickhoff (1-7) makes his first start after the All-Star break, opening a three-game series on Monday in Miami. The right-hander has a 3.30 ERA in five starts against the Marlins.
Brewers: LHP Brent Suter (1-1) is 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts since joining the rotation for injured righty Chase Anderson. Suter will open a four-game road series on Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.